Johnson & Johnson Names Winners of First Africa Innovation Challenge

Johnson & Johnson (www.JNJ.com) today named the winners of the first Africa Innovation Challenge at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress. The initiative, which received nearly 500 submissions from innovators and entrepreneurs across the continent, sought the best ideas for new, sustainable health solutions that will benefit African communities. The Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies comprises the world’s largest healthcare business and its presence in Africa dates back to 1930, including business operations, public health programs and corporate citizenship. The Africa Innovation Challenge is part of the company’s comprehensive approach to collaborate with and support Africa’s vibrant innovation, education and health systems institutions.

In addition to the Africa Innovation Challenge winners, the company also announced today that it is a major partner of Women in Innovation and the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa, programs that seek to substantially increase the number of women on the continent working in the sciences. These announcements follow the prior week’s opening of two new Johnson & Johnson regional offices in Ghana and Kenya, which along with our South Africa-based global public health headquarters, will support health system strengthening and public health programs.

“Africa is one of the fastest growing regions of the world, and Johnson & Johnson is proud to support this growth through strong collaborations that encourage innovation and accelerate advancements in the continent’s health systems,” said Paul Stoffels, M.D., Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson. “We are seeing a surge of activity among entrepreneurs and health system leaders to develop important solutions that overcome longstanding health and societal challenges. By working together, we hope to bring meaningful solutions to patients and consumers more rapidly, to help cultivate the next generation of scientists, and to support Africa’s entrepreneurial base.”

Africa innovation challenge

The Africa Innovation Challenge, launched in November 2016, solicited novel ideas with a focus on three critical health areas: promoting early child development and maternal health; empowering young women; and improving family well-being. The three winning concepts embraced these themes as well as the goal of creating ongoing, sustainable businesses:

  • Project Agateka (Burundi) – The development of a sustainable solution to support girls who are unable to afford menstrual pads and underwear is an important need for young women. Project Agateka will provide a direct health solution as well as the opportunity for women and girls to generate income in Burundi. With the inclusion of health information, the initiative also provides health education to support improved sexual and reproductive health.
  • Project Kernel Fresh (Liberia) – Project Kernel Fresh sources natural palm kernels from smallholder women farmers, increasing their income. The entrepreneur cold presses the palm kernel oil to be used in organic cosmetics. The project will also create jobs for young women by training them to sell the products throughout Liberia.
  • Project Pedal Tap (Uganda) Seeking to prevent disease transmission, and a reduction of water use, Project Pedal Tap will develop hands-free solutions for hand water taps in Uganda. The entrepreneurs will create manufacturing capabilities, using mostly recycled materials, which will lead to an ongoing business.

“This was an extremely difficult competition to judge as there were many terrific ideas,” said Josh Ghaim, Chief Technology Officer, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. “The three winning projects demonstrated a strong benefit to local communities and the ability to empower young women, and they also have the potential to deliver ongoing economic support. We look forward to working with these entrepreneurs over the course of the next year to help them build sustainable operations.”

Each of the three winning recipients will receive funding as well as mentorship from scientists, engineers, and operations members from the Johnson & Johnson Consumer Research & Development organization and other areas of the company.

Supporting women in science and innovation careers

Globally there is significant gender inequality in the sciences. To help address this, Johnson & Johnson has made a strong commitment to increase the number of Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Manufacturing and Design (WISTEM2D) careers. Last year, the company entered into 10 partnerships with institutions around the world to accelerate the development of WISTEM2D careers and supported other STEM initiatives globally.

With the sponsorship of Women in Innovation (WiIN), and through the collaboration with the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA), the company expands its WISTEM2D commitment to Africa, where gender inequality in science and innovation careers mirrors gaps found around the world.

WiIN is a new mentoring program that will reach 1,000 female college graduates in Rwanda and provide them with communication leadership skills and encourage them to pursue a career in the sciences. The pilot program, which will begin in 2017 and seeks to expand to other African countries, will provide week-long, comprehensive instruction and mentorship to recent women college graduates on how to pursue and maintain a career in the sciences.

The AESA collaboration, which launched this month, will promote and accelerate the development of Africa’s research leadership, scientific excellence and innovation by encouraging and supporting WISTEM2D education and career development for young people, particularly females across the continent. The initiative will include entrepreneurial mentorship and internship programs for early career researchers, challenges, and other innovation initiatives. Throughout the year, employee volunteers from the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies will work with AESA to host WISTEM2D workshops and courses geared toward coaching scientific leadership and promoting entrepreneurship and innovation in Africa.

“African millennials and entrepreneurs represent some of the best talent in the world. Our presence at the Global Entrepreneurs Congress here in Johannesburg and other Africa based conferences like the Next Einstein Forum, programs like the Africa Innovation Challenge, and partnerships with organizations like Women in Innovation and the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa reflect our confidence in Africa’s women and men and their potential to change the world through innovation,” said Seema Kumar, Vice President, Innovation, Global Health, and Policy Communication.

New regional operations in Ghana and Kenya

The new regional offices in Accra, Ghana and Nairobi, Kenya represent a novel approach to how Johnson & Johnson seeks to develop partnerships, products and service delivery models that address neglected and emerging health issues. Teams from the company’s consumer, medical device, pharmaceutical, global public health and Global Community Impact (GCI) groups will be located in a central office in each country, helping to bring an integrated approach to improving health outcomes in the region.

“The expansion of our companies’ operations in Africa allows Johnson & Johnson to continue to build innovative, collaborative opportunities that meet a variety of market needs, including developing new pharmaceutical products, service delivery approaches and advocacy for health issues impacting vulnerable communities,” said Alma Scott, Head of Africa Operations and Partnerships, Global Public Health. “Through regional engagement with health delivery partners, we seek to support locally-executable programs that drive health impact.”

About Johnson & Johnson in Africa

The Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies have a strong legacy in Africa. More than 80 years ago, South Africa was selected as the company’s third overseas location and has steadily expanded its footprint in Africa to 27 countries. Today, Johnson & Johnson operates three manufacturing plants and employs more than 1,500 employees in Africa who serve the region’s diverse health needs through our consumer, commercial, global public health and corporate citizenship programs.

Through innovation, collaboration and local engagement we are:

  • Cultivating Africa’s innovation through heath technology hubs;
  • Expanding R&D skills and capacity among African scientists;
  • Catalyzing healthcare infrastructure investments;
  • Enhancing collaboration with local health delivery partners;
  • Boosting education and training resources for healthcare workers;
  • Empowering African youth to thrive and become drivers of change;
  • Improving access to medicines.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Johnson & Johnson Services, Inc..

Press Contacts:
Seema Kumar
+1 908-405-1144
SKumar10@ITS.JNJ.com

Toneisha Friday
+1 908-938-9146
TFriday3@ITS.JNJ.com

About Johnson & Johnson:
Caring for the world, one person at a time, inspires and unites the people of Johnson & Johnson (www.JNJ.com). We embrace research and science – bringing innovative ideas, products and services to advance the health and well-being of people. Our approximately 126,900 employees at more than 250 Johnson & Johnson operating companies work with partners in health care to touch the lives of over a billion people every day, throughout the world.

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The European Union and Algeria adopt their Partnership Priorities

The EU and Algeria adopted their shared Partnership Priorities at the Association Council of 13 March 2017. The partnership priorities set up a renewed framework for political engagement and enhanced cooperation. They were defined by mutual agreement in the context of the revised European neighbourhood policy and the EU’s global strategy for foreign and security policy.

The Partnership Priorities in the context of EU-Algeria relations up to 2020 are as follows:

  • political dialogue, governance, the rule of law and the promotion of fundamental rights;
  • cooperation, socio-economic development, including trade and access to the European single market;
  • energy, the environment and sustainable development;
  • strategic and security dialogue;
  • the human dimension, including cultural and inter-religious dialogue, migration and mobility.

Some of these priorities will be the subject of technical and financial cooperation, which will be implemented within the framework of the 2018-2020 financial programming.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Council of the European Union.

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Secretary’s Remarks: Mauritius’ National Day

On behalf of President Trump and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Mauritius as you celebrate the 49th anniversary of independence on March 12.

The United States and Mauritius have enjoyed more than two centuries of diplomatic relations. Our national histories demonstrate that we share important values of assuring religious freedom, promoting freedom of speech and press, and living harmoniously in multicultural societies. Your country’s commitment to democracy has enabled Mauritius to advance economically, to become a regional leader building bridges to the world, and to improve the standard of living of your citizens.

The United States is committed to cooperation that contributes to regional security and advances trade and investment. I wish the people of Mauritius a joyous National Day celebration and a peaceful and prosperous future.

Distributed by APO on behalf of U.S. Department of State.

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More can and needs to be done to fight old age poverty – UN expert urges Namibia

The United Nations Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, today commended the Namibian Government for “its political determination and vision on how to improve the lives of all Namibians by 2030 and to protect their human rights”, and “urged the Government to deliver on its promises.”

I call on the Government to deploy every effort possible to finalize and put into motion the comprehensive national policy on the rights, care and protection of older people. A dedicated policy on older persons is key to ensuring improved protection of their rights,” the UN Expert said.

She also emphasized that “any policy on older persons has to adopt a human rights-based approach,” and added that “the United Nations principles on older persons alongside the core human rights instruments should guide the Government’s efforts in this regard.”

“Ageing in Namibia is just beginning to take shape,” the UN Expert noted. While the proportion of older persons has remained somehow constant at around 7 per cent since independence, the projected growth rate of the older population in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to be faster than that experienced by any other region since 1950. “The challenges associated with an ageing society are not a distant phenomenon,” the UN expert emphasized. “It will result in immense pressure on the care system as a growing number of older persons will be living with chronic diseases and disability.”

Low population density and accelerated levels of urbanization have the potential to erode the traditional family care system. Further investment by the Government in health and care infrastructure is required to provide alternatives to the older persons in rural areas.”

“Care can no longer be considered simply a family matter and I call on the Government to step up its effort to revise the Aged Persons Act in order to fully provide for the rights, protection, care and welfare of older people.

“Namibia has come a long way since it gained independence only 27 years ago. It has since enjoyed political stability and steady economic growth and is ranked as an upper middle-income country,” the Independent Expert said. “We owe recognition to these Namibian achievements,” she outlined.

Despite all the efforts, Namibia continues to be among the most unequal countries in the world. “While I acknowledge that poverty levels have been brought down significantly since independence, they remain high for certain parts of the population and certain regions of the country,” the Independent Expert said.

“I am also fully aware that some of the inequalities that persist are the legacy of colonial rule and that attitudes do not change overnight,” she added. “This does not mean that the existing disparities in income and land distribution are acceptable, and I have to insist that more can and needs to be done to fight old age poverty.

“The launching of the Action Plan towards Prosperity for All, the so-called Harambee Prosperity Plan 2016/17 – 2019/20, has a great potential to foster enjoyment by older persons of their rights as it specifically refers to the social protection for older persons and addresses key areas such as hunger, poverty, and housing.”

“While the establishment and expansion of an extensive system of social grants is a significant achievement and example to follow, the universal non-contributory old age grant in many households constitutes the only income as a result of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. I acknowledge the huge positive impact of the old age grant to reducing poverty levels, while it is important to ensure that earmarked assistance reaches its intended beneficiaries.”

“There are serious concerns about violence against, abuse and maltreatment of older persons and in particular older women in Namibia and there is too little discussion about it”. It is estimated that around 4 to 6 per cent of older persons have experienced some form of maltreatment at home. Poverty, inequality, substance abuse are contributing factors, but also entrenched attitudes including about corporal punishment. “The government has an obligation to tackle this as a matter of priority.”

“I would like to assure you that I heard your call for technical cooperation and capacity building. The international community has indeed an important role to play in complementing and supporting your efforts to address the challenges of an ageing society and in particular in the fight of old age poverty. I will do my utmost to encourage the international community to continue its cooperation with Namibia, including through financial and specific technical support. ”

During her ten-day visit, Ms. Kornfeld-Matte visited Windhoek, Katutura, Okahandja, as well as Rundu, Silikunga, Zone and Mpungu in the Kavango Regions and met with various Government authorities, non-governmental organizations, the academia and others working on the rights of older persons, as well as older persons themselves and their representative organizations.

The Independent Expert will present her findings and recommendations of her country visit in a report to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2017.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

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