Promoting handwashing with soap & immunisation: GAVI-Lifebuoy partnership

Driving handwashing behaviour change among school children Children with raised hands

GAVI and Lifebuoy launched an innovative partnership in 2017 to protect children under five from illnesses. By promoting handwashing with soap and immunisation together - two of the most critical and cost-effective child survival interventions - the partnership aims to help improve and save many young lives in India.

Using soap for washing hands can reduce diarrheal diseases by over 40 per cent and respiratory infections by 30 per cent. Immunisation is also key to combat vaccine-preventable diseases and is shown to be one of the most cost-effective public health interventions. [1]

Safal Shuruaat (‘Successful Beginning’) aims to tap into parents’ desire to raise successful children, keeping them infection-free for the best start in life. It uses a host of resources such as a 21-day handwashing challenge and an immunisation calendar to increase awareness of the importance of handwashing with soap and vaccines, improve handwashing practices and increase demand for immunisation.

A large part of the programme’s success is the fact that it leverages the strengths and assets of the two partners. Lifebuoy has contributed expertise in behaviour change, marketing capability, and financial resources, whereas GAVI has leveraged its health system strengthening investments and its Vaccine Alliance networks.

Through a ‘Successful Parenting’ communication platform, Safal Shuruaat will play a key role in contributing to two of the Government of India’s leading public health initiatives Swachh Bharat and Mission Indradhanush by helping establish a solid foundation for children to get a good start in life and thrive in the future. Additionally, it will have a positive impact on multiple UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including Good Health and Well-being (Goal 3) as well as Clean Water and Sanitation (Goal 6) and Global Partnerships for Sustainable Development (Goal 17).

During the pilot phase, the programme reached over five lakh individuals across 41,000+ households in Hardoi and Allahabad. It was observed via the concurrent monitoring findings that the incidence of handwashing with soap post defecation increased five folds. While, in relation to immunisation, the possession of Mother Child Protection card and knowledge around the subject increased significantly among the respondents.

Based on the success of the pilot, Safal Shuruaat is expanding to another twelve districts, in India.

[1] For every US$1 invested, US$18 are expected to be saved in healthcare costs, lost wages and lost productivity. Source: Ozawa S, Clark S, Portnoy A, Grewal S, Brenzel L, Walker D.G. Return on investment from childhood immunisation in low- and middle-income countries, 2011-20. Health Affairs. 2016 Feb;35(2): 199–207.

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