Coronavirus, ebola: Johnson & Johnson commits up to $250 million to support frontline health workers

With the world scrambling to contain the mysterious coronavirus in China, and ebola continuing to ravage part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) on Thursday announced it was committing up to $250 million to support frontline health workers with the launch founding of a new Center for Health Worker Innovation.

Johnson & Johnson says achieving the health-related Sustainable Development Goals and effective pandemic preparedness is anchored in well-functioning primary and community health systems, with frontline health workers at their heart.

The launch of the Center for Health Worker Innovation is meant to be a response to the World Health Organization (WHO)’s projected shortage of more than 18 million frontline health workers by 2030, as well as the quality crisis in low- and middle-income country health systems.

Recognizing the World Health Organization (WHO) Year of the Nurse and Midwife and the critical role health workers play in early detection and response to pandemics like the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Center will support one million nurses, midwives and community health workers by 2030 reaching 100 million patients. 

“Even the most innovative solutions cannot successfully treat or prevent a disease without trained, equipped frontline health workers to administer them to a patient,” said Paul Stoffels, M.D., Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer at Johnson & Johnson. “Today’s announcement continues J&J’s century-long legacy of support for nurses, midwives, and community health workers around the globe through our new Center for Health Worker Innovation.”

For decades, Johnson & Johnson has partnered with UNICEF to advance the health of children worldwide, including a $10 million commitment made on World Children’s Day 2018.

“Every five seconds, a child somewhere around the world dies, mostly from conditions that can be prevented and treated,” said Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore of UNICEF. “We commend Johnson & Johnson’s continued commitment to those on the front lines of children’s health — skilled and equipped community health workers, nurses, and midwives.”

In a statement received by TODAY NEWS AFRICA, Johnson & Johnson said it was also proud to work alongside the South African government as they strengthen the link between communities and primary care in pursuit of universal health coverage.

Nationally-scaled digital health programs like MomConnect and NurseConnect support communities and frontline health workers with vital health information and communication channels. The Center for Health Worker Innovation is now collaborating with the South African Ministry of Health to co-create an action plan to address the critical gaps faced by community health workers as they work to improve access to healthcare for all South Africans.

“A well-supported frontline health workforce is key to meeting our vision of a long and healthy life for all South Africans,” said Dr Yogan Pillay, Deputy-Director General in the South African National Department of Health. “When we empower health workers and the patients they serve, the whole health system benefits.”

“The Johnson & Johnson Center for Health Worker Innovation is an enterprise-wide effort to inspire, recruit, train, retain, and mobilize frontline health workers because in solving the challenges they face, we can improve healthcare for everyone,” said Lauren Moore, Vice President, Global Community Impact at Johnson & Johnson. “No single institution can solve the human resource crisis in global health alone — but together, we can create a world where resilient frontline health workers provide the world’s most vulnerable people with the quality care they need to live full, healthy lives.”

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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