Huffpost Impact

A Commitment To Caring For Women And Children

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This post is by Johnson & Johnson as part of their sponsorship of HuffPost Global Motherhood.

Caring for the health of a mother is the most direct way to improve the life of her entire family. In resource-challenged countries where many people never see a doctor in their lifetimes, the benefit of focusing on the needs of mothers is immediate and exponential: Invest in one safe pregnancy, and two people survive. Teach one midwife to revive a newborn struggling to take that first breath of life, and the number saved will continue to grow. Help a group of women with HIV understand ways they can prevent their babies from being born with the virus, and a generation free from AIDS begins to seem possible.

In 2010, Johnson & Johnson continued its long-standing legacy with a five-year commitment in response to the United Nations' call to action to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) of reducing mortality in women and children by 2015. The commitment aims to help as many as 120 million women each year, reaching 50 countries through our philanthropic programs. The MDG commitment includes research and development efforts to bring forward new treatments for HIV and tuberculosis; 200 million doses annually of mebendazole, a treatment for intestinal worms in children; extended support for a variety of safe birth programs; and a significant expansion of mobile health initiatives in countries with high infant mortality rates and high mobile penetration, such as Bangladesh, China, India, Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa.

"We have a responsibility to share our resources and bring the latest knowledge, technology and medicine to improve the lives of women and children," says Sharon D'Agostino, Vice President, Worldwide Corporate Contributions, Johnson & Johnson.

Sarah Omega in Kenya, Yu Haixia in China and Megan Johnson in the United States are examples of women, and mothers, who have been touched by the network of community-based partners of Johnson & Johnson, working together to better health and save and improve lives.

Sarah Omega suffered 12 years of incontinence and social rejection because of fistula, an injury resulting from prolonged childbirth. The UNFPA, supported by Johnson & Johnson, and key hospitals such as Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia and Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, work to prevent and treat fistula and help survivors, like Sarah, rebuild their lives. When Yu Haixia's son, Song Xiaoyan, was born, he could not breathe on his own. Through China's Neonatal Resuscitation Program, a joint effort by Johnson & Johnson, the Chinese Ministry of Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics to address birth asphyxia, nurses performed life-giving resuscitation and he was able to take his first breath. Megan Johnson's second pregnancy seemed much harder on her than her first, until the Middletown, Conn., mom started using text4baby, a free mobile service that offers health information for expectant mothers and through a baby's first year of life via text messages.

As an extension of the MDG commitment, Johnson & Johnson has formed a partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which is supported by the United Nations Foundation, mHealth Alliance and BabyCenter LLC. This partnership, Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA), will harness the power of mobile technology to deliver vital health information to new and expectant mothers. Over the next three years, the partnership will work across an initial set of three countries, Bangladesh, India and South Africa, to help coordinate and increase the impact of existing mobile health programs to improve maternal health.

"The impact we have on people's lives is a vitally important aspect of our giving and caring as a company," says D'Agostino. "Equally important is the support we provide to our community-based partners. We provide strategic guidance as well as financial support, working with these organizations to measure their results and ensure that programs are having the desired effect."

In the last decade, Johnson & Johnson and its operating companies have provided more than $4.3 billion in grants, product donations and patient assistance, touching lives around the world.