Unilever lifebuoy advocates for behaviour change on global hand washing day

October 18, 2017
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In sub-Saharan Africa, the total number of under-five deaths was 2.8 million in 2015, accounting for almost half of the total number of global under-five deaths in the same period/COURTESY

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 18 – Unilever’s number one soap brand Lifebuoy celebrated the Global Handwashing Day in Kenya by advocating for best handwashing practices that aim to reduce diseases among school going children and therefore curbing school absenteeism.

Hygiene related diseases, which are easily prevented through the incorporation of basic hygiene practices into our lifestyles, have been reported to be the leading cause of death among children under the age of five. Studies show that washing hands with soap is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent diseases.

In sub-Saharan Africa, the total number of under-five deaths was 2.8 million in 2015, accounting for almost half of the total number of global under-five deaths in the same period, according to the World Health Organization Global Health Observatory data repository. The same report indicates that the total number of neonatal deaths in sub-Saharan Africa was over 1 million in 2015 and over 780,000 under-five children in sub-Saharan Africa die each year from pneumonia and diarrhoea, which accounts for over half (54.1%) of the global total (490,372 from pneumonia and 295,250 from diarrhoea).

“These numbers are a reflection of our society which is further highlighted by the Cholera outbreak which has unfortunately claimed lives. Basic hygiene practices need to be deliberately incorporated in our lives. Top of the list is the use of soap while washing hands at crucial moments such as before having a meal. At Lifebuoy, we understand the impact that handwashing can make and today we are celebrating with the world the achievements that behavior change can bring to a child’s life,” said Myriam Sidibe, Lifebuoy Hygiene and Nutrition Social Mission Director Africa, during the Global Hand Washing Day celebrations at XXX Primary School.

Unilever Lifebuoy initiated social programs at a global scale to address the issue of making hand washing with soap an everyday habit. Since 2016 the School of 5 and Super School of 5 has reached more than 2 million and educated more than 600,000 children in an attempt to change behaviour.

The handwashing programmes implemented as part of the Help a Child Reach 5 campaign are part of Lifebuoy’s broader handwashing programme portfolio. In Kenya, the Lifebuoy School of 5 Handwashing’ intensive 21 day programme targets to change the hygiene habits of 12 million Kenyans by 2020 through its Help a Child Reach 5 programme.

“We are putting in deliberate efforts through this integrated behavioral change campaign to help reduce child mortality in Kenya. Reaching out to one child at a time encourages an ecosystem that practices basic hygiene practices thus contributing to a healthy nation,” added Sidibe.

According to the United Nations, the 2017 Global Hand Washing Day, is a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and inexpensive way to prevent diseases and save lives. Global Handwashing Day is an opportunity to design, test, and replicate creative ways to encourage people to wash their hands with soap at critical times.

The winners were:

Top Schools Awarded Sh100,000:

1. Kabete Vet Lab Primary School

2. Victory Education Centre Primary School

3. Tassia Catholic School

Top Students Awarded:

1. Trezy Kaduka – Kabete Vet Lab Primary School (Sh18,000)

2. Alvin Otieno – Tassia Catholic School (Sh15,000)

3. Lavester Kaduka – Umoja Academy (Sh10,000)

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