May 22nd, 2013
People often ask me why Johnson & Johnson is so deeply engaged with obstetric fistula. My answer is that the health and well-being of moms and babies is the essence of our company, and we would therefore care for the women who suffer personal tragedy in giving birth. I never fail to speak of Our Credo which charges us to “support good works and charities.” While this is all true, the whole story of our involvement with obstetric fistula is a great deal more personal than that. It started because one man earnestly wanted to do one good thing.
While Johnson & Johnson’s operating companies have supported those with obstetric fistula for two decades, it wasn’t until Axel Velden, a retired Johnson & Johnson executive who once had charge of the company’s export business, contacted me that our commitment at the corporate level began. I had never met Axel, but he was well known and universally respected, so when he called me one busy spring morning, I interrupted my task to listen.
Axel told me that he’d learned of a surplus of incontinence pads that a subsidiary was preparing to destroy. “Conrad, you can’t let the pads be destroyed.