09/19/2011 09:07 am ET | Updated Nov 19, 2011

Celebrating Partnerships That Improve Health for Women and Children

Heads of state, leaders in global public health, and various stakeholders from civil society and the private sector are gathering in meetings and conferences in New York this week to discuss their individual and collective agendas to improve the state of the world and the health of its population. Much of the discussion will be framed in the context of progress against the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). I and a number of my colleagues at Johnson & Johnson will have the opportunity to participate in a number of these discussions and to build and strengthen partnerships that will increase the impact of our work in improving human health.

Clear and aggressive action plans are critical, of course, and we at Johnson & Johnson have held ourselves accountable to measuring our progress against our commitments. While we focus on what we must accomplish and how we will partner with others to achieve it, I am personally inspired by remembering that individual people are counting on us. At last Wednesday's UNFPA Panel -- A World at 7 Billion: Meeting the Challenges and Seizing the Opportunities -- I thought about the October 31st birth of the baby who will bring the population of Planet Earth to 7 billion. Later that day I listened as people said that this baby will be a boy born in China or India. I smiled. I choose to believe that this baby will be a girl and I wonder if she will be able to take her first breath of life without assistance. I wonder if her mother will survive childbirth. Will that baby girl make it to her first birthday? Will she be able to go to school? And then I thought about the parents I have met whose babies were saved at birth because of neonatal resuscitation training programs for health care workers. I remembered the overwhelming relief of mothers whose babies were born HIV-free because of available testing, training and support programs, and medicines. Once, these outcomes were thought to be impossible. People's lives are positively affected by many, including some of the NGOs with whom we in the private sector are privileged to work.

Building on our legacy in maternal and infant care, last September Johnson & Johnson made a five-year commitment in response to the UN Secretary General's call-to-action to achieve the Millennium Development Goals of reducing mortality in women and children by 2015. Working with partner organizations we have made progress against our goal of improving the health of as many as 120 million women and children worldwide each year by piloting innovative approaches and scaling up interventions that have been proven to work. Our focus has been in areas such as: the delivery of critical health information to new and expecting mothers via mobile phones, broadened efforts to train skilled birth attendants, research and development of new medicines for HIV and tuberculosis, treatment and hygiene education for children with intestinal worms, and broadening neonatal resuscitation training to help ensure that babies can take their first breath of life.

So much more needs to be done and only through partnerships will we be able to achieve all that we have set out to do. To expand awareness of maternal and infant needs, Johnson & Johnson and the AOL/Huffington Post Media Group will collaborate and launch extensive content related to global motherhood. This initiative will be announced at this week's Women: Inspiration and Enterprise (WIE) Symposium and begin in January 2012. By amplifying the issues of new and expectant mothers to millions, we believe that the world can better connect and help those most in need.

We celebrate the many partnerships that will be formed or strengthened this week. With the public and private sectors working together in a world connected by ever-improving technologies, we are now more able than ever to improve the lives of girls, women and children everywhere. There will soon be 7 billion people counting on it.

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