J&J helps save mothers’ lives

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JEFF Go, president and managing director of Johnson & Johnson Phils. Inc. and Dr. Antonieta Inumerable head of the Quezon City Health Department. Photo by Marlet D. Salazar

The United Nations Millennium Development Goal (MDG) is set to end in 2015. The UN MDG is a roadmap of eight time-bound and measurable goals to “build a safer, more prosperous and equitable world.”

Leaders of 189 countries met at the UN in September 2000 and endorsed the Millennium Declaration.

Governments and the private sector have responded to this and set out their own goals based on the MDGs. It is interesting to note that many public and private organizations have focused their efforts on MDG No. 5, which is “Improve maternal health by reducing maternal mortality by three quarters and achieving universal access to reproductive health.”

Johnson & Johnson Philippines Inc. (JJPI), which develops consumer health care products, as well as pharmaceutical and professional health care products, has responded and especially took note that “the country is among one of the top countries which contribute to the 97 percent of maternal, infant, and child deaths worldwide.”

Brighter future

“Brighter Future” is a campaign the firm co-designed with public health experts. It is to ensure underprivileged mothers would get the much-needed pre- and post-natal care.

“This is a program unique for JJPI,” says Jeffrey Go, president and managing director.

JJPI sought partnerships with the public sector through local governments and reinforcement from the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef). They rolled out the first foundational phase of the program in September last year with emphasis on education, capacity building, and community mobilization to strengthen the country’s health system.

The second phase is the more tangible contribution of “survival kits” to expectant mothers.

“Our collective goal was to save 1,500 mothers’ lives  by January this year,” explains Sean Zantua, human resources and contributions director of JJPI.

Through employee engagement, JJPI was able to come up with 1,600 of these kits and handed them over to pregnant mothers of Batasan and Betty Go Lying-In Clinics in Quezon City. The choice of beneficiaries is based on statistics provided by the local health department of numbers of maternal or infant deaths.

“We are prioritizing the areas with the highest reported number of maternal and infant deaths in the Philippines,” Zantua says. “After Quezon City, we are looking at North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat in Mindanao, and most probably, Tacloban in the Visayas.”

Survival kits

According to Zantua, 100 percent of JJPI employees participated in the program by donating any recyclable material that was sold to purchase the kits. The kit, which costs P750 each, contains medical supplies and medicines such as umbilical cord clamps, syringes, Oxytocin, Phytomenadione, and eye anti-microbial ointment. It also contains mittens, bonnets, socks, and blankets.

Mothers will be able to claim the kits only after they give birth. They have to present the certificate handed over to them. This is also to ensure of a facility-based delivery, which is highly encouraged by health officials. The turnover of the certificates was held at the Batasan Hills Superhealth Center.

“These 500 kits are estimated to be able to save mothers and babies born in the next three months,” Go says.

The survival kits are “scientifically been proven to raise the survival rates of the newborns and their mothers within the critical first few hours and weeks.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has prescribed EINC or Essential Newborn Care Protocol “to improve the way health care services are provided for infants.” The Department of Health has already institutionalized EINC in the Philippines.

The “Brighter Future” campaign is looking beyond survival kits although they are considering working with partners to make it even more pervasive in the country, especially in underprivileged communities in the country.

 

Long-term plans

JJPI hopes to strengthen the Philippine health systems in support for improved maternal and newborn care by conducting maternal death reviews and adding neonatal death reviews.

“We have a vision of a world made better for our nation’s babies (thus the campaign title “Brighter Future”),” says Go. “As a company that lives to protect and advance maternal and child health, we felt it was our duty to be part of the solution.”

Go and Zantua also reveal that there are long-term plans for “Brighter Future” but did not disclose the details yet.

The long-term plan will involve not only the employees, but also all of JJPI’s partners and the public.

“Brighter Future is as ambitious as it sounds,” Go says, “It takes a multi-pronged approach toward securing increased mother and newborn survival: continued partnerships with public health experts and local government units for capacity building, and a public engagement campaign.”

JJPI also launched “Di Lang Laro ang Laro” program where employee-volunteers and some of its partners helped build a play area in Brgy. Kasiglahan, Montalban, Rizal, which benefited children in the community. The play area promotes the use of “active play,” which also brings back the many Filipino-oriented games that test an individual’s hand and body coordination, motor skills, as well as analytical skills and concentration.

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