Lilly’s Big Lift for Kenya's AMPATH Program

Through its charitable arm, the Lilly Foundation, Eli Lilly and Company is committing $1 million to expand the oncology progrom of Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH).

AMPATH didn’t start out as a cancer center, but rather an HIV/AIDS center which consorted with a variety of North American healthcare centers. AMPATH is a partnership between Kenya’s Moi University and Indiana University. The program is led by Indiana University’s School of Medicine, to which Eli Lilly and Company, along with its foundation, have strong ties.

Related: Lilly Endowment Stays Generous with Indiana U

AMPATH has expanded rather significantly since it was established back in 2001. Lilly’s recent $1 million commitment will help to fund the expansion of AMPATHs Oncology Institute, which was established in 2009 with only one nurse and one doctor. The institute has grown from its two-person team to include 10 clinicians, six nurses and one pharmacist. Even though the institute reportedly received thousands of patient visits and screened thousands of women for breast and cervical cancer, it is only one of two cancer centers in the entire country. By the numbers, it just doesn’t have the capacity to screen or treat the millions of people that are in need of the institute's services.

To help even those odds a bit, Lilly’s recent $1 million commitment, which will be will be awarded over four years, is allocated to the purchase of equipment for a new oncology center, hiring additional staff, and training local health care professionals. A bit further down the road, Lilly and AMPATH want to increase their ability to screen and treat people for cancer and provide more palliative care to those who don’t have access to quality health care in Eldoret, Kenya.

Related: Lilly Foundation: Grants for Global Health

Lilly’s involvement with AMPATH goes back to 2002, and it has since donated over $60 million in pharmaceuticals to the program. As Dr. Joe Mamli, AMPATH's field director, says, Lilly’s involvement started at a time when he treated a diabetic patient that had no insulin. As the story goes, Dr. Mamlin would give money out of his own pocket for the patient to purchase insulin. The patient died and the good doctor sent word back to Indiana University asking if there was anything they could do to get other meds outside the realm of HIV to AMPATH. Lilly responded by sending a planeload of insulin. This was followed by other drugs for cancer and mental illness. As Dr. Mamlin puts it, the planes have never stopped coming.

In addition to Lilly’s recent $1 million commitment to AMPATH, the two organizations are combining efforts to explore, and to hopefully develop a Lilly employee volunteer program that will that will allow employees to participate in skills-based assignments with AMPATHs Oncology Institute.

Our bet is that Lilly’s support to AMPATH will continue.