In honor of the remarkably long-standing partnership between INMED and Johnson & Johnson (J&J), we took some time to chat with Linda Pfeiffer, INMED founder, and Alexandra Hernandez, manager for J&J Global Community Impact Latin America—two of the people who have made this relationship tick. Read on to find out how this relationship has evolved and managed to endure throughout the many changes of the past three decades.
How is the J & J – INMED partnership unique?
Our partnership is unique in that INMED collaborates with J&J across a number of different parts of the company, depending on the project. This way, INMED’s various programmatic needs can be met by the part of J&J best placed to support that need and make the strongest impact. Equally important, throughout the many years of our relationship, we have maintained open communication and a culture of collaboration that truly gives us the space to discuss issues and challenges as they come up—and arrive at solutions together.
The J&J-INMED partnership is unique in its longevity, continuity and mutual trust. Despite changes in staff and evolving priorities, this partnership has continued unbroken for 30 years. Our work together began and continues with discussions of global priorities and needs. It isn’t a typical donor-grantee relationship.
How has the partnership evolved over time?
We’ve seen our relationship evolve into different regions and take different approaches as needed. This partnership started with product donations in Africa, but now is focused primarily on programs in Latin America, particularly Peru and Brazil where there was an opportunity to make a big impact. Aside from product donations, our partnership now takes on a more comprehensive approach to sustain long-term change, including capacity building for the health workforce and with community leaders. We have also, over time, added strong measurement systems to track how we are contributing toward regional and global goals, and adjust when needed.
The partnership began with a focus on getting essential medicines to those in most need of them, and has evolved to focus on programs with long-term impact on maternal-child health and nutrition, as well as disease prevention and treatment, especially for children.
What has been the highlight of your partnership over the last 30 years?
Over 30 years, there have been so many highlights, both for the communities that we are serve with INMED as well as our own employees. We continue to be impressed by INMED’s efficiency, adaptability and knack for building meaningful relationships. This enables them to support communities to put in place solutions that work in their local context and stand the test of time. On the J&J side, through INMED we’ve started offering employee engagement opportunities, such as volunteering during disaster relief campaigns and days of service, which welcome young J&J executives from around the world to interact with the children and families benefiting from J&J supported programs. This exposure builds young leaders who value honoring the Johnson & Johnson Credo, and who better understand the local context our partners operate in.
One of the major highlights of INMED’s partnership with J&J was working together to lead the Healthy Children, Healthy Futures initiative in Brazil, which brought together more than 20 pharmaceutical companies with universities and government to collaborate on a large-scale program to prevent and treat intestinal worm infection in school-aged children. Sir George Alleyne, former Director General of the Pan American Health Organization, called the Healthy Children, Healthy Futures program “one of the best examples of public-private partnership” for health in his presentation to the World Health Assembly. Building on this, INMED and J&J have recently mobilized a national-level initiative to treat and prevent intestinal worms in 6 million people, mainly children, annually in Peru.
Alexandra, what strikes you most about INMED’s impact through its programs?
Efficiency and reach are two very commendable traits. It is amazing to see how INMED maximizes resources to reach far larger populations than one might think. INMED is a shining example of how any organization can reach isolated communities with essential health services.
Linda, what do you see as the role of the private sector in addressing global health inequalities in the world?
As our name implies, INMED “Partnerships” for Children is all about mobilizing and facilitating public-private partnerships to tackle some of the most serious health and development issues in developing and emerging communities. The private sector plays a unique role in fostering economic development and opportunities, along with basic health and development assistance. Companies, like J&J in particular, provide a long-term perspective and rigorous planning and focus on outcomes and impact.
What are you excited about tackling together in the coming years?
We look forward to more co-created projects that enhance and sustain the health and well-being of vulnerable people in Latin America. In that vein, we hope to continue to facilitate collaboration among various sectors to address some of the regions’ biggest challenges. We also will continue to seek opportunities to share the stories of the people at the frontlines of delivering care; it is something we can’t stop doing if we want to sustain the impact we’ve had these past three decades.
We are excited to focus our work with J&J in the coming years on scaling the impact of programs we have worked on together over the past 30 years. This includes improving mother and child health and nutrition, expanding disease treatment and prevention and continuing to introduce innovations. We also look forward to building on complementary work in areas, such as TB control, and scaling new technologies for ensuring compliance and prevention.