Sharon D’Agostino of Johnson & Johnson on Caring for the Health of Mothers

Video courtesy of Johnson & Johnson

By SHARON D’AGOSTINO

OPINION

Mothers are the central focus of our philanthropic work around the world and we are often asked why.

Quite simply, 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.

As I travel around the world, I am always touched and inspired by the dedication of many people and organizations working to bring better health to women in some of the world’s most hard-to-reach places.  In sub-Saharan Africa, Johnson & Johnson has partnered with mothers2mothers to expand education and support for pregnant women with HIV, helping them seek the treatment they need and take steps to protect their children.  Because of Helping Babies Breathe, more birth attendants in Uganda and Malawi will be trained to save newborn lives by addressing birth asphyxia.  Through the MAMA partnership announced earlier this year, more expectant mothers in South Africa, Bangladesh and India will receive critical health information on their mobile phones, empowering them to make healthy decisions for themselves and their babies.

In the year since we responded to the United Nations Secretary General’s call to action to improve maternal and child health, our focus has been on supporting innovative programs and scaling up proven interventions.  Partnerships have been crucial to our progress.  We continue to incorporate mobile technology and other innovations to improve care.  At the core of this work is our commitment to mothers, because we believe that maternal and child health is the source of thriving families and communities.

We invite you to become part of helping mothers around the world by joining the ABC News and United Nations Foundation “Million Moms Challenge” at www.millionmomschallenge.com.

In recognition of the first 100,000 people who sign on to the Million Moms Challenge, Johnson & Johnson will donate an additional $100,000 to organizations helping moms and babies throughout the world.

Sharon D’Agostino is the Vice President, Worldwide Corporate Contributions and Community Relations, Johnson & Johnson

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