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on a positive impact

Transforming health systems across East Africa through our skill-based volunteering Program

By Annet Eijkelkamp

Building on its 88-year history in Africa, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is working with local healthcare providers and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in East Africa to address local health issues. One example of how J&J empowers local partner organizations to tackle public health challenges, is the J&J Secondment Program – a unique collaboration between J&J, our employees and NGO partners to invest in and build the skills of people on the front lines of care across the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. Through (amongst others) full-time field assignments of up to six months, our employees transfer their knowledge, expertise, skills and passion to our partners to change the trajectory of health for humanity.

Let’s hear from four of our 2019 J&J employees based in Kenya on how they are using their talent for good by supporting and contributing to strengthening health systems in East Africa through our Secondment Program.

Providing children an equal chance to succeed in life with SOS Children’s Villages

From left to right: Natalia Piontkevich, Sallamaari JauhiainenStephen RuhmelRobert Stubna


My name is Natalia Piontkevich and I work as Procurement Manager at J&J in the Middle East and Africa region. For the last 5 months, I have been supporting our long-term partner SOS Children’s Villages with the development of action plans for their health and education facilities in the Eastern & Southern Africa region to be aligned with its Strategy 2030. This will allow the organization to focus on its core competences in prevention and alternative care.

SOS Children’s Villages provides children who can no longer live with their parents with quality alternative care in a family environment. The organization works with families and communities to help them build their capacities so that children are well cared for and families stay together. SOS Children’s Villages does this with the support of donors, communities, governments and other organizations.

I was glad to be able to contribute to delivering the SOS Children’s Villages’ 2030 Strategy, which directly relates to the Sustainable Development Goals in key areas such as poverty, inequality, education, health, social and child protection, and decent work.

By helping SOS Children’s Villages shape a new organizational structure and business model, we’re helping them reach their goal of ensuring many more children have a loving home and an equal chance to succeed in life. We leverage our long-standing partnerships, dedicated J&J employee base and company resources to build community-driven solutions, spark life-changing innovation and elevate ideas from individuals around the world.

Transforming Public Health with Hand in Hand Eastern Africa

My name is Sallamaari Jauhiainen, HR Business Partner at J&J R&D Switzerland. In July this summer, I got an incredible opportunity to move to Nairobi, Kenya, to support an NGO called Hand in Hand Eastern Africa. The NGO’s mission is to work for the economic and social empowerment of the most underprivileged populations in Kenya by creating sustainable enterprises and jobs. The goal of this NGO is to alleviate poverty by positively transforming the social and economic status of its beneficiaries.

My role at Hand in Hand Eastern Africa is to lead the development of the organization’s public health interventions and strengthen its health education trainings. I review and implement public health programs targeted at mothers and care givers, who constitute a large majority of the NGO’s beneficiaries. In practice, this means directly working with the poorest communities in very remote areas in Kenya as well as developing and facilitating health education trainings for them. In addition, a crucial part of my secondment is to ensure sustainability of the program by building capacity and knowhow about public health amongst the NGO’s staff members and by establishing partnerships with the major health-related organizations in the field of development aid. Lastly, as I continue my journey further as a secondee, I will develop a monitoring & evaluation strategy around the NGO’s public health program to profoundly evaluate and measure the outcome of the program.

Empowering Nurses and Midwives with the Aga Khan Development Network

My name is Stephen Ruhmel and, since March, I have been working with the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in Nairobi to strengthen nursing and midwifery throughout East Africa. J&J has partnered with AKDN for over 18 years to transform these professions and enable high quality care for all East Africans. This year marks the end of a five-year program to strengthen professional associations of nurses and midwives by building their capacity, improving their overall quality and regional collaboration, and elevating the image of this cadre. Evidence suggests that by strengthening such associations, the profession and overall healthcare system can improve. We pursued this via numerous workshops on topics across financial management, monitoring and evaluation, strategy, and resource mobilization among others.

As the program reaches its denouement, our evaluation suggests that it has resulted in significant impacts among the participating associations not only Kenya, but Uganda and Tanzania as well. The nine participating associations reported improved capacity to mobilize resources and manage their financials, in turn promoting overall sustainability of the organizations. They have developed and implemented strategic plans and improved their routine tracking and reporting of their activities. These associations collaborate not only with one another, but with other healthcare associations within and beyond East Africa. Building a positive image for nurses and midwives remains a challenge in the region, however both leadership and members of the associations increasingly advocate for their profession, working with the government and media alike to create positive change. These encouraging results build upon the pathway being laid by J&J, AKDN, and other healthcare organizations as we collectively pursue holistic transformation of the healthcare system in Kenya.

Improvement through Reporting with NGO Save the Children

My name is Robert Stubna and in my professional life I am Key Account Manager for Medical devices at J&J in Slovakia. My story with Save the Children Kenya started at the beginning of April 2019 as Data Analysis & Reporting Specialist with the focus on improving the project data flow and reliability in the NGO. Save the Children is an organization with a 100-year history of full dedication to improving the lives of children in vulnerable communities operating in more than 120 countries worldwide.

The Kenya Country Office is currently involved in 35 development projects focused on different aspects of children welfare covering issues such as reproductive, maternal, newborn child and adolescent care in combination with Family Planning campaigns, Education, Water and Sanitation programs while keeping their capacity for fast humanitarian response in the case of the drought which is coming to this region more often than ever. From the very beginning, I realized that I have to focus on helping people working on the front line, where all the value for the children is created. As these people are responsible for all the field interventions as well as for proper data collection, analysis and dissemination so the project progress can be reliably monitored, I want to help to make their lives easier and provide the organization with the structured project data for their further reference. This is quite a complex task but it is rewarding to help those people to be more successful in their mission – every day to strive for Every last Child to Survive, Learn and Be Protected.

These four examples show the different and unique ways our employees are transforming conditions for health providers and the health care system in East Africa. All four examples show how our approach not only creates social value but also teaches our employees with invaluable new skills to support them grow both personally and professionally.

To learn more about the Johnson & Johnson Secondment Program and our partnerships in East Africa and across the EMEA region, please visit our website.

As always, we welcome your feedback!