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Health and Hope Come to Children with Type 1 Diabetes in Southeast Asia

May 25, 2023    Posted by: Eli Lilly and Company

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Dr. Amphayvanh Manivong watches Aloudy take his blood glucose level as his father, Phouthsaly looks on.  

Type 1 diabetes has been a treatable condition for 100 years — but in the Southeast Asian country of Laos, no child was known to have survived childhood type 1 diabetes until 2016. That’s when a UK-based charity called Action4Diabetes (A4D) stepped in to fill critical gaps in care, including physician training to diagnose and treat type 1 and access to medicine and supplies — the main cause of mortality for a child with type 1 in low-to-middle income countries.

To help address that gap in Laos, in 2023, we will begin supplying diabetes medicines through Direct Relief, a U.S. humanitarian relief agency, which distributes medicines to public and non-governmental organizations in disaster-hit countries.

Our sponsorship funding will enable A4D to expand its HelloType1 program to a total of eight countries in Southeast Asia including Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. HelloType1 delivers diabetes type 1 education to increase diagnosis, enhance the quality of care and improve outcomes. This collaboration is part of Lilly’s 30x30 initiative which aims to improve access to quality healthcare for 30 million people (roughly the population of Texas) living in resource-limited settings, annually by 2030.

Two of our employees working to make this come to life — Adilet-Sultan Meimanaliev and Robert Lloyd — recently had the opportunity to visit Laos. They paired up with Fiona Ooi, Action4Diabetes regional manager to see A4D in action at Mahosot Hospital in Vientiane, Laos.

A4D is the only not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization (NGO) focused on the type 1 diabetes community in Southeast Asia. A4D supports over 680 young people across six countries by providing free access to essential medical supplies for diabetes care, as well as blood glucose testing, and additional education interventions.


Mahosot Hospital in the Laos capital of Vientiane currently manages all 70 people with type 1 diabetes in the country. The staff has established relationships and trust with patients and their families. Laos is a resource-limited country with poverty and poor access to diabetes education, medication, and healthy diets. Children with type 1 in these living conditions often have poor health outcomes.

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Established in 1903, Mahosot Hospital is a vital facility that treats infectious diseases, performs medical research and treats patients with typhoid and malaria. Because of these tropical diseases, the average life span of Laotians is 68 years, eight years shorter than in the United States.

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Jonny fist bumps Lilly's Adilet-Sultan Meimanaliev and Robert Lloyd after meeting and talking with him about his experience living with diabetes. Jonny routinely visits the hospital to get his blood glucose tested, stocks up on his diabetes medicines and meets with Dr. Amphayvanh Manivong. Like many other children in Laos, Jonny enjoys playing soccer and would like to join the army one day, just like his big brother. “A4D is doing some amazing work in Laos,” Lloyd said. “They’re providing people with type 1 diabetes with all the supplies needed to manage their diabetes. The more they can be supported with medical donations, the more patients can be diagnosed and treated.” 

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A4D’s Fiona Ooi, Lilly's Adilet-Sultan Meimanaliev, Dr. Manivong, senior pediatrician at Mahosot Hospital, and Lilly’s Robert Lloyd, pose for a photo outside Mahosot Hospital in Vientiane, Laos. Dr. Manivong is holding a portable HBA1c (hemoglobin A1c) machine for the diabetes clinic, donated by A4D.

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Patient education is one of the critical components of diabetes management, so it’s important that Sithisath understand his condition, his diet and exercise, and how to monitor his blood glucose levels. “All type 1 patients in Laos are managed by two doctors in the hospital,” Lloyd said. “Each day, all 70 patients send a picture of their blood glucose monitor readings via WhatsApp (messenger service app) to the doctors for dose adjustments and control.”

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Motorcycle taxis (Tuk Tuk) are the preferred mode of transportation in Vientiane and used by the Mahosot Hospital to transport patients.

“Youth living with type 1 diabetes have the same dreams and aspirations as their peers,” said Adilet-Sultan Meimanaliev. “By sponsoring and supporting organizations like A4D through Direct Relief, we can make a huge difference for people living with type 1 diabetes and their families in Laos while doing our part to support the WHO’s Global Diabetes Compact.

We stand behind our purpose of uniting caring with discovery to make life better for people around the world through innovative and collaborative efforts.