One of the exciting things we do at PATH is to transform cutting-edge projects that address urgent, unmet needs into widespread impact. More than 1,600 individuals and family foundations help us make these creative leaps—from taking us into new regions like highly challenged Myanmar to launching our program in noncommunicable diseases (think cancer, diabetes, and heart disease).
Our annual report to our contributors makes clear the essential role of our donors, whose partnership with PATH propels lifesaving solutions to families and communities around the world. In its pages we’re honored to tell the stories of just a few of the people and projects that benefit from your vision and generosity.
No wrong door for people with diabetes
With the backing of our supporters, for example, PATH is stepping forward to respond to a rapidly growing problem: a dramatic increase in deaths from noncommunicable diseases—especially cancer and diabetes—in developing and emerging economies. The global health community has worked hard to open doors to health care for devastating infectious diseases like malaria and HIV. Now, with funding from our supporters, PATH has launched a program that will make sure those doorways lead to better care for this new suite of threats.
Our starting point is diabetes, a rapidly growing threat to health and economies in low-income countries, where people develop the disease at younger ages, suffer serious complications sooner, and die earlier in life. More than half of people with diabetes worldwide (and up to 80 percent in Africa) don’t even know they have it. A survey of 13 countries where we work confirmed that better community-level screening tools could make a significant difference by opening new avenues for diagnosis and treatment.
The impact of timely support
Funding from our supporters allowed us to evaluate a range of screening tools on the cusp of availability that could be used to tell people they have diabetes or are at risk and guide treatment. The information gathered with that seed funding helped leverage larger grants for studies in Cambodia, India, and Mexico. When the results are in, we hope to advance the most promising technologies and innovative approaches so that more people can access treatment sooner.
Support from forward-thinking contributors is building a firm foundation for our growing work in noncommunicable diseases. By integrating it with our work in infectious diseases—strengthening health systems to ensure that clinics that now focus on HIV, for example, also offer screening and care for diabetes and heart disease—we hope that one day there will be no wrong door for accessing critical information, tools, and services to prevent and care for these debilitating diseases.
- Lesley Reed is a senior editor at PATH.