The Johnson & Johnson Corporate Citizenship Trust (Trust), the Aga Khan University (AKU) and the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) hosted a three-day `Health Care Quality Challenge’ conference in Nairobi (10-12 November) to recognise the 15-year partnership between the Trust and AKU and to celebrate the University’s 15 years in East Africa.
The Conference, attended by over 200 local and international health care professionals, addressed the need for systematic approaches to quality improvement across health care systems in East Africa and the impact that focusing on health systems and quality can have on achieving the targets in the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Conference also provided a platform for two key partnership announcements:
- The launch of the `Healthy Futures’ partnership Impact report. A report which details the impact of made by the AKU and the Trust over the last 15 years in advancing nurse education. Findings show that since 2001, over 2000 nurses have graduated from the AKU School of Nursing and Midwifery in east Africa with 100 now in leadership positions helping to improve the training, image and status of nurses and midwives.
- Announcement of a US$1million health education investment from the Trust. The announcement marked the first significant investment the Trust will make in the space of impact investment, which will supplement the existing grant portfolio by acting as a catalyst for greater impact. Together, the AKDN and the Trust will now explore how impact investments can expand access to healthcare and strengthen human resources for health in East Africa.
“Over the 15 years that we have partnered with the AKDN, our relationship has deepened and strengthened. As such, it is a natural next step along our continuum of interventions that together we explore social impact investment opportunities to make a long term difference to human health in the communities we serve,” said Jane Griffiths, Company Group Chairman Janssen EMEA and Chairman of the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Citizenship Trust.
Noting the importance of the partnership, Mr Al-Karim Haji, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of AKU, thanked the Trust for partnering on the Conference and for its enduring support of the University’s School of Nursing and Midwifery in East Africa. “For the last 15 years, the Trust has supported AKU’s School of Nursing and Midwifery in East Africa,” he said. “Almost 90 percent of our more than 2,100 nursing graduates have received support from the Trust, and more than 100 of them hold leadership positions in East Africa.”
Added Sharon Brownie, Dean of the AKU School of Nursing & Midwifery east Africa, “It is to the great credit of the Trust that it has seen fit to invest so much in nursing and the development of nursing leadership in East Africa, and over so long a period. In regions such as East Africa, where nurses can make up 85 percent of the health workforce, it is vital that we continue to work together to advance their skills and knowledge and to build respect for the nursing profession. The results of the impact report are testament to the strong foundations that we have already created and will continue to build in the years to come.”
Speaking on the importance of strong leadership and partnerships, Jane Griffiths said that “The impact that health is making to society and to women in particular is immense. The training and education of nurses and midwives, delivered through this partnership, has had a positive impact on community health and has strengthened local health care systems”. She added that “On an individual level, it has empowered women working in these professions to take leadership positions and to drive change to create a better and healthier future.”
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the partnership between the Trust and the AKDN. The partnership began in 2001 when the Trust launched a scholarship program for advanced nursing studies with the AKU School of Nursing and Midwifery (AKU-SONAM) in East Africa. To date, more than 2100 nurses and midwives have graduated from AKU-SONAM and have gone on to create a deep and sustainable impact in the communities they serve, with 90% of graduates staying within the region.
In addition to the collaboration on nursing and midwifery in East Africa, the partnership between the Trust and AKDN has grown and deepened over the years to include grant support for Early Childhood Development (ECD) programs in East Africa and Portugal; support for nurse training and nursing associations in Egypt; and more recently, ECD programs in Tajikistan and Kyrgistan.
In 2013, AKDN was named a Flagship Partner of the Trust, and since 2014, has hosted eight Johnson & Johnson employees who share their skills and knowledge on long term assignments as part of the Trust Secondment Program.
The AKU and AKF are both part of the AKDN network.