Megan Bridges Megan Bridges
Senior Manager, Americas, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


August 30, 2023


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s U.S.-Colombia Business Council (USCBC) and the Global Initiative on Health and the Economy (GIHE) hosted a Public-Private Partnership Forum to Advance Resilient Health Systems in Colombia in Bogota, Colombia on August 10.

The event convened leaders from government, academia, civil society, and the business community to focus on the importance of public-private partnerships (PPPs) as a tool to strengthen the health of communities, and the role of the private sector in building more sustainable and resilient health systems.  

The private sector is leading the charge in creating sustainable and resilient heath systems, and in this spotlight series, we hear from business leaders about their company’s impact in Colombia.

Today’s sponsor spotlight is on Joana de Castro, Managing Director, Janssen, Latin-American North Cluster.

Q: How is your company contributing to advancing health in Colombia, especially in underserved communities?

To achieve positive impact in vulnerable communities, Johnson & Johnson is focused on three pillars of action: social impact programs, volunteer programs, and emergency and disaster care.

Mental Health Services:

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for mental health services increased and has not been attended to with the quality and urgency that is needed in Colombia. J&Js Mental Health Program, as of May 2023, has 7,324 beneficiaries who receive comprehensive support. We believe that everyone, everywhere, should have access to quality basic health services.  We work to have an impact on public health through this volunteer program, which contributes to improving access to overall health in underserved areas and raises awareness of different health issues, breaking down taboos and stigmas.

Cleft Palate Surgeries:

In 2022 we managed to support more than 600 children with cleft palate and cleft lip. So far in 2023, we have contributed to more than 200 surgeries, with a special focus on La Guajira.

Training & Development of Health Professionals:

So far in 2023, we have benefited more than 2,500 health professionals throughout the country with continued medical education, to also reach remote regions of Colombia with quality medical knowledge.

Within the framework of the Hospital Padrino strategy with the Valle del Lili Foundation, we have trained 131 health professionals from six low- and medium-complexity hospitals in the districts of Cali, Buenaventura, and the department of Valle.

We developed the Nursing Care in Sexual and Reproductive Health diploma, with the participation of 1,569 people from the academic community. In doing so, we donate anatomical models at the University of Antioquia and implement actions to promote sexual and reproductive rights of the most abandoned Colombian populations.

We held a Health Day from April 28 to 30 to provide free health services in urology and optometry consultation to the most remote and vulnerable communities in the municipality of Guapi, in the department of Cauca. In urology, 52 people were attended with rapid prostate antigen (PSA) test and medical consultation. In optometry, 215 specialized medical consultations were carried out in the optometry service and the donation of 198 lenses with an optical formula. In the second semester of 2023, we will host three more Health Days!

Q: Where does your company see the greatest opportunity for working in partnership with stakeholders to enhance sustainable access to health products and services?

We see the greatest opportunity for working in partnership with stakeholders to enhance sustainable access to health products and services in underserved and vulnerable communities. By collaborating with governments, NGOs, and healthcare organizations, we can address barriers to access, improve healthcare infrastructure, and implement innovative solutions to reach those most in need. This collective effort aims to create lasting impact and ensure equitable access to essential health products and services for all.

The medical and scientific community is key to achieving better access and innovation in health. For this reason, R&D is a priority for our company.  In Colombia we have 18 clinical studies in the therapeutic areas of immunology (6 clinical studies with 59 projected patients and 24 active ones), infectious diseases (2 clinical studies with 620 projected patients), pulmonary arterial hypertension (4 clinical studies with 54 projected patients and 25 active), hematology (2 clinical studies with 18 projected patients), oncology (1 clinical study), neurosciences (1 study with 29 projected patients and 41 active) and COVID-19 (2 clinical studies with more than 6,400 projected patients and 6,300 active patients).

Clinical research brings multiple benefits to Colombia. The country's participation in clinical studies allows our researchers be scientific leaders globally, as well as advances the level of treatment in the country.

Additionally, clinical studies conducted in Colombia  allows patients to have access to innovative treatments and a better quality of care, by having researchers at their disposal, priority appointments, and monitors who are reviewing  data, among other benefits.

We also sponsor educational initiatives aimed at patients, to share valuable information with them. In Colombia, we are currently supporting research on Crohn's disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension, Multiple Myeloma, and Psoriatic Arthritis.

Finally, and very importantly, our work with patient associations has allowed us to carry out multiple investigations, through the Colombian Foundation of Leukemia and Lymphoma and ACPEF, on the preferences of patients regarding their health and unsatisfied needs in diseases such as Multiple Myeloma, Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, and in mental illnesses such as Depression and Bipolar Disorder.

Q: What will be your company’s legacy in Colombia?

Collaborative impact work with different actors in the health sector, to transform the quality of life and health of Colombians.

We aim to leave a legacy of ensuring that everyone, everywhere has access to basic quality health services. We seek to reduce the health worker coverage gap, enhancing access to healthcare providers. By investing in a thriving frontline health workforce, they aim to increase the quality of care delivered to communities. Additionally, we aim to strengthen primary and community-based health systems, ensuring sustainable and comprehensive healthcare solutions. Through these initiatives, we are committed to making a lasting positive impact on global health and leaving a legacy of improved healthcare accessibility and quality worldwide.

About the authors

Megan Bridges

Megan Bridges

Megan Bridges is Senior Manager for the Americas at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and supports the U.S.-Colombia Business Council, U.S.-Mexico Economic Council, U.S.-Canada Business Initiative, and Coalition for the Rule of Law in Global Markets.

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