By Kevin Cho
It’s said that practice makes perfect, and that saying couldn’t be truer than for health care workers trying to save newborn lives in low-income settings. Without frequent retraining and refresher workshops, such skills deteriorate over time. The need for these workshops is especially strong in Ethiopia, where the infant mortality rate is 77.12 deaths per 1,000 babies, placing it among the worst worldwide.
In response to this need, Johnson & Johnson has donated $75,000 to the Millennium Cities Initiative (MCI) and the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) in order to hold refresher trainings in the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP’s) “Helping Babies Breathe” protocol in the Millennium City of Mekelle, Ethiopia, and nearby MVP Koraro cluster, both in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray Region. With this funding, MCI and the MVP will help facilitate two workshops, spaced 6-8 months apart, for Mekelle and Koraro practitioners from the clinics, hospitals and health centers, building on UNICEF sponsored trainings conducted in 2010. The clinics will equip at least 204 health care providers in Ethiopia with the knowledge necessary to save the lives of newborns with breathing difficulties, making smart use of minimal, low-cost equipment. This reinforcement of proper neonatal resuscitation practices is expected to dramatically increase the chances of survival for infants who struggle to breathe at birth. These trainings follow on the success of a similar program in 2010-2011 in the Millennium Cities of Accra and Kumasi, Ghana, also funded by Johnson & Johnson. MCI, the MVP, Johnson & Johnson and the AAP believe that this model can be equally effective in both rural and urban contexts in the Tigray Region, ultimately helping to improve the lives of thousands of low-income residents in these areas, many of whom live on less than $2 a day.
The donation further reinforces Johnson & Johnson’s commitment to global health and its credo to put the people it serves first; the company was ranked number one in the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship’s 2010 Corporate Social Responsibility Index.
With the help of Johnson and Johnson, MCI and the MVP continue to make progress in Ethiopia to help Mekelle and the Koraro cluster attain the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and make extreme poverty, rural and urban, a thing of the past.
About Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson, through its family of companies, employs approximately 118,000 people worldwide and is engaged in the manufacture and sale of a broad range of products in the health care field in many countries. Johnson & Johnson’s primary interest, both historically and currently, has been in products related to health and well-being. Johnson & Johnson was established in the State of New Jersey in 1886.
About the Millennium Cities Initiative
The Millennium Cities Initiative (MCI), a project of the Earth Institute, Columbia University, was founded by world-renowned development economist Jeffrey D. Sachs as the urban counterpart to the Millennium Villages Project, and as an outgrowth of the national-level policy work carried out by the United Nations Millennium Project. Through research, policy analysis and targeted interventions, MCI’s core mission is to help underserved cities across sub-Saharan Africa complete an urban transformation — one essential to attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) — including the fundamental goal of halving extreme poverty in the Millennium Cities by 2015.
About the Millennium Villages Project
The Millennium Villages are proving that by fighting poverty at the village level through community-led development, rural Africa can achieve the Millennium Development Goals — global targets for reducing extreme poverty and hunger by half and improving education, health, gender equality and environmental sustainability — by 2015, and escape the extreme poverty that traps hundreds of millions of people throughout the continent. Simple solutions like providing high-yield seeds, fertilizers, medicines, drinking wells, and materials to build school rooms and clinics are effectively combating extreme poverty and nourishing communities into a new age of health and opportunity. Improved science and technology such as agro-forestry, insecticide-treated bed nets, antiretroviral drugs, the Internet, remote sensing, and geographic information systems enriches this progress. Over a 10-year period spanning two five-year phases, community committees and local governments build capacity to continue these initiatives and develop a solid foundation for sustainable growth. Currently 500,000 people in 14 different sites in 10 countries are part of the project. Each cluster site is located in a distinct agro-ecological zone which together represent the farming systems used by 90% of the agricultural population of sub-Saharan Africa.