The Olympic Games are fast approaching, and Brazil will soon host the world’s best athletes, along with thousands of fans.
But the conversation dominating the headlines surrounding the Summer Games is not who will go for the gold. It’s the mosquito-borne virus known as Zika.
Although most people don’t show symptoms even when infected with the virus, Zika can have tragic effects on the developing babies of infected mothers.
Of course, addressing emerging threats like Zika and Ebola are a high priority for us. So when Zika started to spread across Brazil late last year, our medical teams partnered with Brazilian health authorities to identify how best to mobilize and combine our resources with those of local collaborators to help stem the outbreak at the source.
3 Ways Johnson & Johnson Is Helping to Combat Zika
Due to the complexity of the health emergency created by Zika, we enacted a plan that works on three fronts:
Helping Pregnant Women and Babies. In partnership with public and private entities, we are implementing a program to help train public healthcare professionals, nurses and physicians to care for women who are pregnant and at risk of delivering babies with microcephaly as a result of becoming infected with Zika.
The goal is to train 1,650 healthcare workers in six priority regions with the highest concentration of infections: Recife, Salvador, Cuiaba, Araguaina and Campina Grande.
Supporting the Government’s Work to Prevent Zika. This is the most critical part of the plan, because while Zika is a global public health threat, the fight has to be taken on locally in order to stem its spread.
To help support government efforts to prevent further infections, we’re engaging pharmacy workers on ways to identify symptoms and provide guidance to reduce transmission rates.
Researching the Best Long-Term Solution to Eliminate Zika. As we have done with Ebola, when we accelerated the development of a vaccine to help prevent the disease, we are now looking for ways to do the same with Zika.
In addition to exploring the development of a Zika vaccine within our own labs, we are also supporting the research of others to bring forward preventive and diagnostic solutions—both of which are essential for stemming a public health outbreak like this.
In June, we offered professor Leda Castilho of the Alberto Luiz Coimbra Institute of Graduate Studies and Engineering Research access to our state-of-the-art JLABS@TMC facility in Houston, Texas, to continue to advance Zika-related research. She will have access to the best laboratory equipment—and to our teams of scientists and other experts.
I am personally very proud of these initiatives that are well underway and already making a difference in Brazil. Zika is being addressed with Olympic effort, not only by Johnson & Johnson, but also our network of partners worldwide.
Our goal is to ensure society wins, and Zika loses.
Fernanda HB Pimentel leads the medical affairs and clinical research team in Latin America, providing support to all therapeutic areas and franchises within Johnson & Johnson’s consumer business.