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December 1st, 2010

One Drop of Rain Starts a Waterfall

I recently had the opportunity and privilege to visit our company affiliate in East London, South Africa. The reason for my trip was to produce a video (below), in recognition of World Aids Day occurring today.

Unfortunately, the Eastern Cape of South Africa, like much of the continent, has been ravaged by HIV/AIDS. The health center, at the East London plant, provides support and education for those affected by the disease. Those include the many employees who are either infected with HIV, caring for stricken family members, or who tragically have lost loved ones to the disease.

Based in part on the learnings from East London, Johnson &Johnson has formulated an HIV/AIDS Global Workplace Policy, which states that we seek “to save lives, improve lives and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS by being a socially responsible participant in the global response to HIV/AIDS.” A noble cause, and what was especially moving to me was the willingness of employees (mostly shot in silhouette, to protect their privacy), to share wrenching stories about their struggles with the disease.

One of the goals of the health center is to help people understand that having HIV/AIDS is not a death sentence, and that it’s possible to “live positively well, being positive,” as articulated by Penny Muller, RN, the health and wellness coordinator at the East London facility.

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November 11th, 2010

One Child, One Blanket

From Leila Mueller, Humanitarian Assistance and Product Giving Specialist, Johnson & Johnson

I traveled to Peru this past August, where record low temperatures took the lives of hundreds of children in the country.  The disaster forced the government to declare a state of emergency as citizens living in poor and isolated communities nestled among the Andes Mountains struggled to cope with the freezing temperatures.

In response to the escalating disaster, employees at Johnson & Johnson Peru worked together through their One Child, One Blanket program to provide warmth and comfort by donating 500 blankets to children affected by the state of emergency.  One Child, One Blanket, as its name indicates, provides blankets to children in disaster affected areas.  Employees knit, sew or purchase blankets, which are distributed to children in need following a disaster.  This program, with its personal connection between Johnson & Johnson employee volunteers and communities in need, serves as one component of Johnson & Johnson’s disaster relief efforts across the globe.

Johnson & Johnson USA employees matched the donation, bringing the total to 1,000 blankets.  With the help of our in-country U.S. partner organization Americares, Volunteers for Inter-American Development Assistance (VIDA), employees distributed blankets to children and families to help battle the drastic cold. 

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November 10th, 2010

Communicating About Sports Safety

From Dr. Jamie A. Freishtat MD, FAAP, Safety Advocate, Spokesperson, Blogger, Safe Kids USA

Last month, I participated in an online webinar entitled Preventing Youth Sports Injury: What Every Parent, Child and Coach Needs to Know.  During the event, orthopedic surgeon Dr. John Hurley, athletic trainer David Csillan and I provided tips for keeping kids safe from sports injuries.  Sponsored by Safe Kids USA and founding sponsor Johnson & Johnson, the webinar also allowed parents, coaches, trainers and other participants to ask questions of the panelists.

One of the things I discussed during my session was the importance of communication between parents, their kids and their coaches.  Recently, I’ve also written on ways to help your kids stay safe and healthy.  Sports injury prevention goes beyond making sure your kids have the right equipment and drink plenty of fluids.  It also includes successful communication between all parties: parents, kids and coaches. 

Talk to your kids.  Have a healthy discussion about you and your child’s goals for the season.  Foster realistic expectations and stress the importance of safety throughout the season.  You are your child’s number one cheerleader, and by encouraging a conversation about sports safety, you can help to decrease the chances of an injury.

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November 4th, 2010

Knowledge is Power in the Fight Against Breast Cancer

From Michael Yang, General Manager, Veridex

Last year, the Veridex team met Jesica Harrington, a young mother and fifth grade teacher from Castle Rock, Colorado.  Jesica’s story as a breast cancer survivor, mother and advocate for others fighting this disease inspires us and makes us proud to be part of an organization that is changing the way we think about managing cancer.

Jesica is one of 2.5 million breast cancer survivors living in the United States.  Further complicating an already devastating diagnosis was the fact that she was pregnant at the time she was diagnosed with the disease.

As we described in Johnson & Johnson’s 2009 annual report, Jesica learned about the CELLSEARCH®Circulating Tumor Cell (CTC) Test, a blood test to capture and detect CTCs, from her father, and she and her doctor made the decision to use the test as a tool that helped to determine her prognosis during her treatment regimen.

Today, a year after she finished treatment, Jesica is cancer-free and is celebrating the birth of a healthy baby boy.  Based on her experience battling the disease, she is sharing her story in the hope that other women will understand the power of knowledge in the fight against cancer. 

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October 27th, 2010

Sparking Student Interest in Science

By Lisa Wu, Senior Associate Engineer, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development

As part of a group of nine ambassadors from Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical R&D, (J&J PRD) I had a fabulous time greeting thousands of visitors to our company’s exhibit booth on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. this past weekend in support of our sponsorship of the USA Science & Engineering Festival (USAEF).

From one end of the Mall to the other and in locations around the city, the Festival achieved its goal of sparking enthusiasm for science and engineering in students of all ages. Thousands of children and families attended the Festival, partaking in hands-on learning activities that featured a lot of what’s cool about science and engineering, from rockets and robots to unraveling the mysteries in DNA.

Visitors to our booth experienced YourHealth 3.0, our interactive, futuristic virtual R&D Center. Children and their parents learned about the miracle of the human body and biology at one of the eight terminals situated around a large model globe. I was amazed at their tech savvy, and how easily they navigated the virtual world. Through video, audio and graphic images, they heard from many of our scientists about our work in personalized medicine and collaborative innovation to solve serious diseases.

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October 26th, 2010

Preventing Youth Sports Injury

October is the best time of year for a baseball fan.  Every member of my family is a die-hard Phillies supporter, so I’m constantly being updated on their progress.  While I’m not much of a baseball fan, this time of year does remind me of my short-lived, but eventful tee ball career.

Prepared with my new glove and bat, I was extremely excited to play for my local league.  I had spent too much time watching my older brother’s games, but now it was my turn.  Practicing was an important part of the game, but for a five year old boy, it could get pretty boring.  While waiting in line one day for my turn to practice batting, my mind began to wander and my attention was drawn away from my coach.  Out of nowhere, I felt a huge whomp on my helmet and I fell to the ground.

When I came to, I realized I had accidentally been hit in the head with a baseball bat by a teammate.  Once the tears had subsided, a visit to my doctor informed me that I did not have a concussion.  Without my helmet, I surely would not have been so lucky.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than 30 million kids participate in sports each year, and Safe Kids USA reports that more than 3.5 million receive medical treatment for sports injuries. 

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October 26th, 2010

Collaborating with the World Health Organization

By William Lin, Director, Corporate Contributions, Johnson & Johnson

The World Health Organization (WHO) held a meeting to mark the launch of the first report on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in Geneva on October 14. Led by the head of R&D for Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical division, Paul Stoffels, J&J made the announcement of expanding its donation of mebendazole for intestinal worms. This is part of the larger global commitment to maternal and child health around the world. It was a momentous occasion to make such an announcement in the executive boardroom at the WHO in the company of country ambassadors, leaders of governmental and non-governmental agencies, foundations, and CEOs and senior leaders of the major multinational pharmaceutical companies. Along with J&J, all present made commitments to treat and tackle the top neglected tropical diseases that afflict the underserved people around the world, especially women and children.

It was especially unique in that this is the second time in 6 weeks that Dr. Margaret Chan, the Director General of the WHO, took time out of her busy schedule to chair meetings to assemble the major stakeholders in the global effort to eliminate or control the NTDs. This is an undeniable indication that she and her team at the WHO are committed to making progress in this area.

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October 21st, 2010

Helping Reduce Disease

By Paul Stoffels, Global Head, Pharmaceuticals Research & Development, Johnson & Johnson 

Last Tuesday, I had the honor of addressing the World Health Organization as it launched a report on neglected tropical diseases. The report suggests that several of the 17 neglected diseases identified could be eliminated by 2020 by increased distribution of simple medicines.

I firmly believe that we have a collective responsibility to contribute to a future of good health for people around the world.  At Johnson & Johnson we are uniquely positioned to do so because of our long history of advancing care for global health and addressing some of the world’s most challenging health problems.

I was proud to highlight our Company’s response to the UN Secretary General’s call for a renewed effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of reducing mortality in women and children by 2015. Johnson & Johnson has demonstrated its commitment to the MDGs by expanding its donation of mebendazole – a treatment for intestinal worms — to 200 million treatments per year.  This represents a four-fold increase from current support.  Our goal is to distribute mebendazole in 30 to 40 countries by 2015, and to help 120 million women and children each year in developing countries. 

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October 14th, 2010

Social Health Meets BlogWorld

I’m a big fan of the research conducted by Susannah Fox and her colleagues over at the Pew Internet and American Life Project. One of their reports that I often turn to when asked about the impact of the Internet on health in America is her 2009 report, the Social Life of Health Information. According to that report, 61% of Americans look online for health information, and of those, a majority access user generated content.

Clearly the use of social networks is having a dramatic impact on how people manage their healthcare needs. To better understand the opportunities and hurdles faced by different stakeholders — from patients to physicians to manufacturers — a special health-focused track is being held today at the BlogWorld and New Media Expo in Las Vegas.

We’re one of the sponsors, and to generate a lively discussion on this subject we’ve invited speakers and panelists from the medical and patient blogging worlds who can share first-hand their experiences, thoughts, needs and issues. I’m personally looking forward to catching today’s opening keynote from e-Patient Dave deBronkart, to catch up with old friends like Kerri Sparling of Six Until Me, Kevin Pho of Kevin MD and Bryan Vartabedian of 33 Charts, Jenny Prokopy of Chronic Babe and many others.

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October 8th, 2010

Focusing on the “Who”

From Sharon D’Agostino, Vice President, Worldwide Corporate Contributions and Community Relations, Johnson & Johnson

Last month, Heads of State, Ministers of Health, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Private Foundations, and a few representatives of the private sector convened at the United Nations for the Secretary General’s Summit on Maternal and Child Health. In fact, there were many conferences, convenings and meetings in New York last week, all focused on the lack of progress that the world has made on the Millennium Development Goals devoted to the health and survival of women and children in low resource countries. As I participated in a number of these discussions, I was reminded that all too often we focus on the “what” and the “how” of the programs and policies that affect women and children, while we omit the conversation about the “who.”

Johnson & Johnson has a long history of working to improve maternal and child health. As part of this work, my colleagues and I visit programs that our company supports around the world, programs developed with the community-based partners with whom we work. During these trips, we have the opportunity to meet the people positively affected by these programs, to see both the needs and outcomes, and to hear the stories of success and failure.

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