Lifebuoy asks world’s first ladies to help a child reach five

Lifebuoy has joined with Fashion 4 Development (F4D) to highlight the life-saving power of handwashing with soap at the UN General Assembly’s annual First Ladies Luncheon in New York.

Building support for lifebuoy’s handwashing programmes

Donna Karan, Kajol and others at the Help a Child Reach 5 lunch

Help a Child Reach 5 ambassador – Indian actor Kajol - and handwashing advocate - Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour - spoke to influential First Ladies, diplomats and fashion VIPs about Lifebuoy’s handwashing programmes, and how handwashing with soap is a key way to reduce child mortality.

Each year, 6.6 million children die before they reach their fifth birthday, 40% of whom are newborn babies.

However, handwashing with soap is one of the most cost-effective ways to prevent infections such as pneumonia and diarrhoea that are responsible for the majority of child deaths, and contribute to the United Nations Millennium Development Goal to reduce child mortality (MDG 4).

Focus on neo-natal hygiene

The ambassadors called on those present to pledge their support for the scaling-up of handwashing programmes, in particular for new mothers to educate them on the importance of hygiene in preventing infections, especially during the first 28 days of a baby’s life.

“Handwashing with soap can make a real difference, especially during the crucial neo-natal period. If we’re to achieve MDG 4, reaching out to new mothers is absolutely critical. I urge policy-makers and governments to take action to scale up handwashing programmes, so that every mother of a young baby and birth attendant can have access to soap,” said Kajol.

Evie Evangelou, founder and President of Fashion 4 Development added: “Lifebuoy’s Help a Child Reach 5 campaign is one that furthers our purpose to help women and children worldwide. I am thrilled to be able to give handwashing with soap the importance it deserves. I am calling on First Ladies and the fashion industry to change the way the world thinks about hand hygiene and help to save more lives.”

Uniting private and public sector around hygiene

Unilever CEO Paul Polman joined Kajol and hygiene experts at a roundtable event in New York on 24 September, hosted by Lifebuoy, to discuss the need for education among new mothers and skilled birth attendants to reduce the risk of infections by improving hygiene habits.

The discussion united the private and public sector with one clear goal: to reach all mothers worldwide with life-saving hygiene messages that help their babies survive the first month of life.

Paul says: “The role of hygiene and handwashing must be more prominent in dialogues around newborn and maternal health. There must be a target on universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) within the United Nations Post-2015 Development Agenda if we are to reduce preventable newborn and child deaths.”

Lifebuoy's model for change

Lifebuoy has a proven model for handwashing behaviour change. Since 2010 the brand has changed the handwashing behaviours of 183 million people across 16 countries, making it the world’s largest hygiene promotion programme.

Working with global partners such as USAID, Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), The Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap (PPPHW), the Earth Institute, PSI and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Lifebuoy is this year expanding its mission across villages in south and south-east Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Find out more about Lifebuoy’s work at and follow Lifebuoy on Twitter

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