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Lifebuoy calls for handwashing to fight child mortality

New York – Lifebuoy has called for hygiene to be recognised as a key intervention to reducing child mortality.

Handwashing with soap as critical policy

Partnerships between business, NGOs and governments are crucial to accelerate live-saving handwashing programmes at the necessary scale. 

As part of this week’s 68th United Nations General Assembly in New York, Lifebuoy gathered experts from across public and private organisations to look at how handwashing with soap can help more children reach the age of five. Key in this discussion was the role the private sector can play in accelerating progress towards the Millenium Development Goal which aims to reduce child mortality.

Paul Polman, CEO Unilever, Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Karl Hofmann, President and CEO Population Services International (PSI), Pavanjit-Singh Bedi, Lifebuoy Global Brand Director, and Kajol, distinguished Indian actress, handwashing ambassador and Help a Child Reach 5 advocate, agreed that scaling up lifesaving handwashing with soap programmes must be recognised as a critical policy to reduce child mortality.

Partnerships are vital

Paul Polman, member of the High Level Panel Post 2015, said: “Governments can find it hard to engage with programmes that involve behaviour change. Hygiene is an area which has been often overlooked. No business, government or UN agency can achieve the agreed reduction of child mortality alone, but by working together we can combine the expertise, resources and policy needed to achieve real change.” 

Partnerships are vital in scaling-up lifesaving programmes. One great example is the global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap established in 2001 and which is a coalition of international stakeholders, including Unilever’s Lifebuoy, whose focus is on handwashing and child health.

Global Handwashing Day – 15 October

Each year on 15 October, over 200 million people are involved in the celebration of Global Handwashing Day in over 100 countries around the world. In addition, Lifebuoy works with for example global partners such as The Earth Institute and PSI to implement its handwashing behaviour change programmes across the world, teaching children, new mothers and community leaders this lifesaving habit. 

Lifebuoy has a proven model for handwashing behaviour change and launched its Help a Child Reach 5 handwashing campaign to improve the health of Thesgora, a village with one of the highest rates of diarrhoea in India. Lifebuoy won’t stop at Thesgora – the brand wants to expand its life-saving mission, village by village. The campaign won’t stop until child mortality due to diarrhoea is eliminated. 

Kajol said: “Here at the UN Summit, policymakers and governments have an opportunity to look at what needs to happen if we are to hit the child mortality reduction target by 2015. I urge those discussing the outcome and recommendations of this summit to ensure that handwashing with soap gets the recognition it needs as the most cost-effective policy we have at our disposal to achieve child mortality reduction under five by two-thirds by 2015”.

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