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The World Health Organization estimates that there is a shortage of at least 1 million health care professionals in the world’s poorest countries. Johnson & Johnson is collaborating with community-based organizations, non-government organizations and multinational coalitions in more than 35 countries to develop a new generation of frontline health workers (FLHW) such as nurses, mid-wives, pharmacists and community health workers to fill that gap.

FLHW professionals often provide a vital point of care for people who live hours or even days away from a hospital or clinic. For example, in Ethiopia and Tanzania, where the maternal and newborn death rate is very high, Johnson & Johnson funds programs that train health care workers to manage complications arising in childbirth and to educate other clinical workers to provide essential newborn care in facilities where there are no doctors.

Johnson & Johnson also collaborated to launch Survive & Thrive (S&T), a global development alliance bringing U.S. obstetric, pediatric and midwifery professional associations together with USAID, the private sector and civil society organizations to improve the quality of maternal and child care at health facilities. S&T provides emerging global health leaders and specialists with opportunities to learn and practice key skills in targeted countries where help is most needed.

Through the Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) initiative, Johnson & Johnson is working with Save the Children, the American Academy of Pediatrics and USAID to train health care workers to intervene when newborns have potentially fatal breathing problems (birth asphyxia) in the precious moments following birth. In the first five years of a similar effort in China, health attendants who completed a facilities-based training saved more than 90,000 babies and cut birth asphyxia deaths by half in 360 hospitals. HBB has certified Master Trainers to give training to birth attendants in six districts in Malawi and 10 districts in Uganda, allowing more mothers to go home with healthy newborns.

Other unique and innovative ways to bring care and information to families and to strengthen health systems globally include training mothers to be health mentors, educating microcredit loan officers to be health educators, and enhancing leadership and supervision within the health workforce.

One such program is the Management Development Institute (MDI) for Health Care Organizations designed to enhance the leadership and management skills of program managers and leaders of sub-Saharan African organizations, both governmental and non-governmental, that are devoted to delivering health care services to underserved populations. The program was designed by world-class management faculty from the UCLA Anderson School of Management at the University of California and by leaders of the African Medical and Research Foundation. Nearly 600 participants from 22 African countries have graduated from this one-week program.

As of August 2012, educators providing microfinance and health protection services in India reached more than 400,000 of India’s rural poor with health messages. The loan officers serving as unique frontline health educators also report greater job satisfaction as they help families in their communities invest in their health and their future.

All these efforts fundamentally aim to deliver life-changing innovations to women, children and families where resources are scarce to ensure that women are healthy, children reach their potential and communities thrive.

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