Lifebuoy unveils new neonatal film and rural programme

Lifebuoy announced the latest edition of its Help a Child Reach 5 handwashing programme with a special focus on the importance of hygiene in the neonatal period – the first 28 days of child’s life.


Over 40% of deaths amongst children under the age of five occur in the first 28 days of life - the neonatal period when children are most vulnerable. The simple act of handwashing with soap can prevent many of these deaths. Handwashing with soap is one of the most cost-effective ways to save child lives.

Samir Singh, Executive Director, Hindustan Unilever, said: “We are excited to release this film and take the hygiene message to where it matters the most: to new mothers in the first 28 days after delivery. The Help a Child Reach 5 campaign started in Thesgora, a village in Madhya Pradesh that has one of the highest rates of diarrhoea, and showcased remarkable results. We now impact child health at a very large scale in partnership with the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation.”

The newest Help a Child Reach 5 film was shot by the famous feature film director, Anand Gandhi. The film showcases the emotional journey of a pregnant mother and her aspirations for her child. It highlights the importance of doing something very simple, yet important during pregnancy and early in the child’s life: washing hands with soap.

Lifebuoy’s ‘Help A Child Reach 5’ Handwashing Ambassador Kajol Devgn said, “I was truly touched to see the new film on hygiene in the neonatal period. I am happy that we are reaching millions of people with lifesaving message on hygiene. I am proud to be a part of Lifebuoy’s Help a Child Reach 5 handwashing programme over the past three years.”

CIFF and HUL via The Bhavishya Alliance Child Nutrition Initiatives is announcing a partnership that aims to change handwashing behaviours of 9 million children in Bihar. In the pilot on-ground activities, the partnership reached out to 560,000 children. The project aims to reach up to 50,000 government rural primary schools in nearly 30 districts. This project will be delivered by 600 trained health promoters who will visit villages with targeted materials and activities for children and mothers to reinforce handwashing behaviours. This programme will also educate thousands of pregnant women and new mothers on the benefits of handwashing with soap.

Anagha Khot, Manager– Strategy & Partnerships, South Asia of Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, said, “Handwashing with soap is among the most cost-effective ways of preventing common infections in children. We are happy to partner with Unilever to reach millions of children across the state of Bihar.”

Unilever is calling for a global-level hygiene indicator to be included in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) – the goals that will set the development agenda until 2030. While the goals were announced in 2015, the indicators are yet to be finalized. What is included and measured will get prioritised by country governments. Hygiene should be included as an indicator to ensure it stays on development agendas, especially in India where it can make the most difference in helping improve newborn and child health.

Watch the film

Link to the new Lifebuoy HelpAChildReach5 film on Neonatal care:

About Help A Child Reach 5

Handwashing with soap saves lives. Lifebuoy’s Help A Child Reach 5 campaign aims to eradicate preventable deaths from diseases and illnesses like diarrhoea, by teaching lifesaving handwashing habits.

Lifebuoy behaviour change programmes: Diarrhoea and pneumonia kill over 6 lakh children under-5 each year in India. Handwashing with soap is proven to reduce the risk of diarrhoeal disease by up to 47% and pneumonia by 23% , the two biggest childkillers both in India and globally.

However, handwashing with soap is not practiced despite its proven effectiveness. Handwashing rates among mothers across India are low- after defecation (1%) and before handling food (11%) . Rates are even lower for children. The challenge is to build handwashing habits at key health related occasions: before eating and after toilet use.

HUL are experts in consumer behaviour and marketing and have used this expertise - in what motivates people and overcomes barriers - to develop a behaviour change model - that we apply to hygiene contexts to promote new behaviours around toilet use or handwashing. Through our Lifebuoy soap brand, Unilever aims to change the hygiene behaviour of 1 billion people by promoting the benefits of handwashing with soap at key times.

Since 2010, Lifebuoy has reached 58 million people in India with its behaviour change programme which - through a combination of comics, songs, games and rewards – encourages children to sustain good handwashing behaviours. We have also developed an education programme to teach good handwashing practices to new mums during the critical neonatal period (first 28 days of a child’s life) when over 40% of child deaths take place.

1Newborns: Reducing mortality, WHO, 2012

Related Link: Follow Lifebuoy on Facebook

1Curtis & Cairncross. 2003. Effect of washing hands with soap on diarrhoea risk in the community: a systematic review. Lancet Infectious Diseases

2Rabie, T. & Curtis, V., 2006. Handwashing and risk of respiratory infections: a quantitative systematic review. Tropical Medicine and International Health 11(3):258-67

3Valerie A. Curtis, Lisa O. Danquah and Robert V. Aunger (2009); Planned, motivated and habitual hygiene behaviour: An Eleven Country Review

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