Johnson & Johnson and the Healthy Children, Healthy Futures Program
In 1993, International Medical Services for Health (INMED), a non-profit international health and development organization, began a partnership with Johnson & Johnson and several other private companies. Their goalto improve the health and quality of life of children in Brazil. In this innovative program, spanning almost the entirety of South America's largest country, INMED has developed a comprehensive strategy for improving child health through: increased prevention and treatment of diseases and nutritional deficiencies; child and community education; and child empowerment. The holistic approach of the project and the high level of involvement of the corporate community have made the Healthy Children, Healthy Futures program an important model for public-private partnerships in child survival.
The Problem: Parasitic Disease, Hygiene and Nutritional Deficiency
Almost two billion people worldwide suffer from parasitic infections, an affliction which the World Bank has identified as the foremost health threat among school age children. This global threat is particularly significant in Brazil, where in the rural and impoverished areas of the country, parasitic infections can affect as many as 85 percent of children. These infections have a devastating impact on the health and survival of children by impairing their physical and mental development and increasing their vulnerability to disease; in the worst cases, they can lead to malnutrition, blindness or death. Preventative hygiene and sanitation measures, along with antiparasitic medication and nutritional supplementation, have been identified as the most effective ways to minimize the impact of these infections.
Initiated in 1993, the Healthy Children, Healthy Futures Program began as a pilot project and then expanded a year later into full implementation across the country. The program's consists three integrated components promote the survival and healthy development of children through:
Treatment: diagnosis and treatment of children for parasitic infections, preventable disease, and nutritional deficiency
Education: teaching educators, health professionals, school personnel and the children themselves about preventative health habits, hygiene, sanitation, and good nutrition
Action: involving and empowering children through participatory education activities to improve the health and nutrition of their families and communities.
Project workers conduct a comprehensive assessment of the children in every community the program targetsfrom biomedical tests for parasitic infection and nutrition, to height and weight measurement and cognitive testing. Focus groups are conducted with parents, children, educators, and community health personnel to determine the levels of understanding about diseases, hygiene, and nutrition. With these results, program staff determine the community's specific public health and information needs and develop treatment program and education curriculum to address those needs. Health officials, administrators, and educators are trained and given the necessary materials to initiate the program in their primary schools.
One of the most important and innovative elements of the Healthy Children, Healthy Futures program, is INMED's Children as Agents of Change intervention strategy. Because of children's adaptable behavior and interest in informal interactive learning, children are the ideal agents of change within their communities. Through lively activities and lessons children are educated to recognize and practice important prevention habits and encouraged to communicate what they've learned to their families.
The centerpiece of the Healthy Children, Healthy Futures program is the health treatment program, which mobilizes local communities, increases health awareness and facilitates educational elements of the program. Through this effort, antiparasitic medication and vitamin A, and iron supplementation are administered directly to children in primary school, as needed, based on the results of the initial health assessment.
In addition to INMED and Johnson & Johnson, the Healthy Children, Healthy Futures program brings together the resources of a number of other important sponsoring companies and institutions:
- Janssen-Cilag (a Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical company)
- El Paso Energy
- Pallottine Fathers
- State and local health and education agencies and schools in Brazil
- Initially, Johnson and Johnson and Janssen-Cilag donated half of the deworming medication Pantelmin used to treat 150,000 children during the program's first year. Since then, Johnson and Johnson has expanded its commitment by donating the full amount of antiparasitic medication to treat every child in the program for three years.
- Johnson and Johnson's contribution to the program has risen steadily since the start of the initiative, amounting to over $500,000 in in-kind donations and an additional $100,000 in cash in the year 2000 alone. In addition, in 2001, Janssen-Cilag will expand its donation to include the drug Rarical, a vitiamin and mineral supplement, as well as shipping costs and the development of educational materials.
- The Healthy Children, Healthy Futures program, which began in 1994 as a pilot project in two areas of Brazil, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, has expanded to include a total of 11 states in the country. It has improved the health of more than 350,000 children and their families. Over 9,000 teachers have been trained through the initiative. The program ultimately plans to expand its reach to all 27 states in Brazil.
- Evaluation of the program's two original project sites revealed significant improvements in child health: infection rates in São Paulo fell by more than half from 44% to 20% and decreased in Rio de Janeiro from 41% to 28%.
Johnson and Johnson's involvement and commitment to the Healthy Children, Healthy Futures program, has enabled INMED to attract support from other companies in the U.S. and international corporate community. This added funding has allowed INMED to expand the program to other regions of the country and to integrate additional services into the initiative. In several cases, companies have begun program sponsorship in specific regions of the country, accepting a stake in the future development and wellbeing of those communities.
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