For the second year in a row, Johnson & Johnson has been nominated to the annual Fortune Change the World list, which spotlights 50 top companies globally that have had a “positive social impact through activities that are part of their core business strategy.”
Johnson & Johnson was recognized for its work with mMitra, an innovative mobile-messaging program that sends vital health information to expectant and new mothers living in low-income urban communities in India.
The company ranks #9 on the list this year—up over 20 spots from its #31 ranking on the 2016 list for its work to help combat tuberculosis.
This latest recognition for Johnson & Johnson comes on the heels of being named a Most Admired Company by Fortune in February, underscoring its reputation as one of the best companies to work for.
How mMitra Is Making a Difference
Johnson & Johnson spearheaded mMitra (short for “mobile friend” in Hindi) in 2014, in partnership with the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action, ARMMAN, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the United Nations Foundation and BabyCenter®.
Their shared goal: help the roughly 150 mothers and 3,500 children under the age of 5 who die each day in India from pregnancy complications or early childhood disease. Such grim statistics are due, in part, to a lack of accessibility to basic health information.
Since most women throughout India have access to a mobile phone, the thinking with mMitra was that women could get free calls and texts in their dialect providing expert health and preventative care information tailored to a mom’s stage of pregnancy or a child's development.
“There were limited models of this type of program, and definitely none at scale,” says Alice Lin Fabiano, Johnson & Johnson’s Director of Global Community Impact. “We were the first in the private sector to do something like this in multiple global locations specifically targeting low-income families.”
The results are certainly heartening.
More than 1 million mothers in India have since participated, and an independent study conducted by the Foundation for Research in Health Systems on the communities using mMitra showed an increase in antenatal visits and baby immunization rates, as well as earlier registrations of pregnancies.
And there's even more planned for mMitra, which is now available in more than 10 countries, including South Africa, Malawi and Mexico.
“We’re now looking at technology beyond voice and text,” Fabiano says. “Videos and visuals will increase the effectiveness of the message and the sustainability of the program.”