This week marks the 71st meeting of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), an event that will call together 193 member nations in New York.
The backdrop for this session is pretty bleak. Around the world, we see conflicting political ideologies, ethnic and religious conflict, and economic crises. We’re constantly reminded of the things that divide us. That’s why I believe it’s so important, now more than ever, to consider the things that unite us. Health & wellness is one common issue that unites all people around the world, especially those of us at Johnson & Johnson.
Together, we believe that health is the foundation for all human development, enabling children to thrive, women and men to succeed, communities to prosper, and countries to rise out of poverty.
Health & wellness is a big focus of UNGA. Yesterday I participated in a White House Roundtable with President Obama and other leaders to chart our progress on the Sustainable Development Goals agreed to by the United Nations a year ago. But our attention was heavily focused on one of the greatest challenges: the Syrian refugee crisis. This is a crisis of breathtaking scale. And I’d argue that any world crisis, anywhere, is a health & wellness crisis.
Earlier this summer, the White House announced a call to action for the private sector to make significant new commitments to support refugees, both on the frontlines of the crisis and in countries of resettlement, culminating in yesterday’s “Private Sector Call to Action Roundtable.”
I shared with President Obama our renewed and forward-funding commitment of $1 million to further strengthen the resilience of refugee and displaced children in Syria and neighboring countries.
Johnson & Johnson has been active in helping to meet the needs of children and families in this crisis—long before the call to action. We’ve been in the fortunate position to partner with Save the Children, and together bring health & wellness to those who have been displaced and need it most.
Last year, we made a two-year commitment of $1.75 million to Save the Children to address specific challenges of the refugee crisis. Yesterday I shared with President Obama and the world our renewed and forward-funding commitment of $1 million to further strengthen the resilience of refugee and displaced children and their families in Syria and neighboring countries. He commended Johnson & Johnson—and other companies, like Airbnb, Goldman Sachs and MasterCard—for helping refugees become more self-sufficient by getting online; accessing aid; and finding housing, health care, and financial services.
As the President said in his 2016 Call to Action CEO Roundtable: “For these companies to put themselves out there on behalf of the most vulnerable citizens in the world is not just an extraordinary gesture of compassion, but I think it’s also a recognition that, for those of us who benefit from this increasingly integrated global society, we can only sustain what we do to the extent that we’re making sure that the least of these, the most vulnerable among us, also have hope, also have opportunity.”
I’m very proud of our support of Save the Children and their core mission of giving children a healthy start, the opportunity to learn, and protection from harm. We’ve donated over $10 million to the organization since our global partnership began in 2013. And to date, Save the Children has reached over 4.1 million people affected by this calamity, including more than 2.6 million children.
In times as difficult as these, it’s often hard to remember the things we agree on and act upon together in the best human spirit. I was very proud to represent the people of Johnson & Johnson during this week’s session at the United Nations. It was a true honor to represent the very best of what we believe and what we do.
For more on how we are proud to support Save the Children in their efforts to provide aid to child refugees, please see the following infographic: