J&J Launches Aid Program for Women, Children

Ahead of a UN summit later this month, Johnson & Johnson pledged money, drugs, and research support for HIV and TB as part of a five-year, private-sector effort to improve the lives of nearly 120 million women and children annually in the developing world.

"We have a responsibility to contribute to a future in which women and children have the latest knowledge, technology, and medicines to support good health," company CEO William Weldon said in a statement. The New Jersey-based drug, medical device, and consumer products company declined to say how much it would spend on the program.

J&J's announcement supports a UN call this year for a renewed push to meet the Millennium Development Goals of preventing poverty, hunger, disease, and maternal and child deaths by 2015. World leaders will meet at UN headquarters in New York City Sept. 20-22.

In addition to furthering the development of new drugs for TB and HIV, diseases that particularly affect poor women and children in developing countries, J&J is boosting spending four-fold on efforts to fight intestinal worms in children. J&J hopes to distribute its treatment, mebendazole, in 30 to 40 countries by 2015. The push includes educational efforts to prevent children from getting re-infected.

In addition, J&J will expand its awareness outreaches to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission and to address other issues that affect maternal health.

The company is utilizing mobile phone technology to launch "Mobile Health for Mothers," a program that sends health-related text messages to women in China, India, Bangladesh, Mexico, South Africa, and Nigeria. More than 1 billion women in low- and middle-income countries own a cell phone.