Unilever Kenya, through its Lifebuoy brand, has kicked off a behavioural change campaign to help reduce child mortality. The 21-day intensive campaign seeks to raise awareness and change the hygiene habits of 12 million Kenyans by 2020, through the Lifebuoy Help a Child Reach 5 programme.
The programme seeks to foster a hand-washing with antibacterial soaps culture as part of a continental programme aimed at encouraging behavior change for more than one billion people in Africa.
Myriam Sidibe, Hygiene and Nutrition Social Mission Director for Africa, said the initiative has been inspired by statistics indicating that more than 5.9 million children under the age of five years died in 2015 due to several preventable causes including diarrhea.
The Centre for Disease Control (CDC), which describes handwashing with a soap as a “do-it-yourself” vaccine, notes that keeping hands clean through improved hygiene is one of the most important steps wto avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water.
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According to the world health organization and UNICEF, children in sub-Saharan Africa are more than 14 times more likely to die before the age of five, than children in developed regions. More than half of these early child deaths are due to conditions that could be prevented or treated with access to simple, affordable interventions.
To help deal with these maternal challenge, Lifebuoy has launched the second phase of the Lifebuoy School of 5 Programme targeting to reach 200,000 children between June and August 2017. From February to April this year, the programme benefited over 200,000 school children.
“Simple hygiene interventions can make a massive difference to this complex issue which in turn improve health and well-being of school going children,” said Carolyne Kendi Unilever Marketing Manager – Skin Cleansing EA.
Since 2010, Lifebuoy has reached more than 337 million people across 28 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America to teach them healthy handwashing habits. Lifebuoy’s handwashing with soap behaviour change programme transforms the hygiene habits of new mothers, school children, caregivers and entire communities
Kendi noted that the act of handwashing with soap is the most cost-effective way to save lives and stop new born deaths yet only 19% of the world’s population wash their hands with soap after using toilet facilities. She says as of March 2016, access to handwashing facilities with soap has been recognised as an indicator to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 (ensure available and sustainable water and sanitation for all).