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Health and Wellbeing

This issue relates to Sustainable Development Goal number 6, Clean Water and Sanitation.

UN Sustainable Development Goal No 6

So far, over 154 million people in India have benefited from our behaviour change programmes. Our brands such as Lifebuoy, Domex, and Pureit have led impactful programmes on the importance of health & hygiene.

Handwashing with soap saves lives

Image of a school boy advocating handwashing

The threat of child mortality due to diarrhoeal and respiratory diseases still looms large over India; around 0.9 million children under the age of five die due to diarrhoeal and respiratory diseases. Handwashing with soap has been cited as one of the most cost-effective solutions to improve health & hygiene, protect against illness and reduce infant mortality.

A review of several studies shows that the simple act of handwashing with soap reduces the incidence of diarrhoeal diseases by an average of 30%.

In 2020, we extended support to 1 million people through Lifebuoy’s handwashing behaviour change initiatives. It helped in promoting the benefits of handwashing with soap at key times during the day and encouraging people to adopt and sustain good handwashing behaviour. Thereby, protecting people from infections.

Our on-ground behaviour change programmes in partnership with the GAVI Alliance (formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation), Project Hope, Power of Nutrition, Bharat Scout and Guide, Naman Seva Samiti, NGOs in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, have helped improve handwashing habits of many people.

From 2010 to December 2020, we have reached out to over 73 million people in India through the handwashing behaviour change initiatives. Thus, empowering them with life-saving health information.

Using the power of mobile to improve hygiene and nutrition

Using mobile technology, Lifebuoy designed one of the world’s first behaviour change programme called Mobile Doctarni that delivers time sensitive health and hygiene information for women and children in hard-to-reach areas.

Power of Nutrition and Lifebuoy launched a partnership in 2019, at the Concordia Annual Summit, on the sidelines of the UN General assembly in New York, US to scale Mobile Doctarni. The partners aim to create a model programme using mobile technology that could be replicated in other parts of the world. The partnership which supports the Government of India’s initiative to address under-nutrition in the country, aims to help approximately 2.7 million women in Odisha and Gujarat by improving nutrition and hygiene in their families by 2023.

The unique mobile programme is a voice-based service that delivers critical health and hygiene information to mothers living in rural parts of India where access to doctors, information and TV is limited. The programme provides information to mothers depending on the pregnancy stage or age of their child. Thus, reducing the burden on the healthcare workers.

Digital Healthcare Solutions

To provide our consumers with this need-of-the-hour service, Lifebuoy partnered with two of India’s largest players in the Telehealth space, Practo for the Urban India audience and Reliance Jio to reach the Tier 2 cities and rural India audience.

Lifebuoy’s symbiotic partnership with Practo supports consumers by providing a telehealth service. The consumers can give a missed call on 99469 99469 and receive an SMS link for one-time free doctor consultation. In May 2021, we went live in India’s most populous and COVID-19 affected state, Uttar Pradesh, and the central Indian state, Chhattisgarh with an aim to reach ~40 million people. In two weeks, we serviced 6,000 missed calls.

The Rural Telehealth program Jio Mobile Doctorni is the first-of-its-kind AI-enabled video bot. Lifebuoy has partnered with expert doctors and Jio - India’s largest telecom player, to create a revolutionary telehealth ecosystem. It has a panel of expert doctors that have helped create responses to more than 5000 questions. This service is a perfect on-demand solution and understands 28 different local dialects. It covers a wide range of health concerns from regular infections to COVID-19.

In tandem with these partnerships, using the data received from the government as well as mobile technology, the Infection Alert System is designed to activate an automatic calling system. This system makes announcements when a cluster disease outbreak is predicted, the illness rate increases due to weather, or there is a high risk of infection spread during community celebrations - essentially disseminating information to encourage mobile-based behaviour change.

It also sends reminders about the benefits of handwashing with soap. Based on this model, we have designed engaging informative mobile OBD's that we serve to approximately 20 million women in Rural India wherein we share relevant health and hygiene information in a simplified colloquial manner to foster a positive transition into adopting healthy preventive measures.

Project Hope – Mum’s Magic Hands

Lifebuoy and Project Hope have partnered to improve the handwashing with soap practices at key occasions amongst pregnant women and mothers of children under the age of five, in Odisha. This unique partnership received great ownership and buy-in from the government authorities, allowing for the training of more than 3000 ASHAs on Lifebuoy’s mothers’ program. The project exceeded the target it set, by reaching 295,000 mothers by April 2021. The project team worked with health officials to understand and address field-level issues that arose due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mum’s Magic Hands (MMH) handwashing behaviour change programme

Considering the scale of the emergency, Oxfam and Lifebuoy agreed to work together to support the worst affected populations in Bihar by encouraging and promoting better handwashing and hygiene behaviours to support the health and survival of community members in times of need. Through this project, we aimed to increase community awareness and encourage the practice of handwashing, in order to reduce health and hygiene risks related to diarrhoea and COVID-19, while addressing the harmful gender norms by empowering women through their participation in MMH.

Lifebuoy has provided 80,000 bars of soap to the project, which can be taken home by mothers after attending each session.

So far, we have reached more than 6,000 mothers through the sessions. We estimate an indirect reach of an additional over 30,000 people due to mothers sharing the learnings with their households and family members. By the end of 2021, the program plans to reach out to approximately 20,000 mothers.

Global Handwashing Day - ‘H for Handwashing’

Each year on 15th October, millions of people worldwide celebrate the Global Handwashing Day (GHD). Lifebuoy is a founding partner of the Global Handwashing Partnership. Last year on GHD, we pledged to advocate for greater emphasis on hand hygiene education through a movement to fundamentally change the way the alphabet is taught- H must stand for handwashing.

The Lifebuoy team in partnership with the Delhi government, strived to initiate hygiene education in pre-schools. The ‘H for Handwashing’ campaign was inaugurated by the honourable Deputy Chief Minister and Education Minister of Delhi, Mr Manish Sisodia. He advocated hand hygiene education to safeguard the health and well-being of our future generations.

We digitally distributed the Lifebuoy hygiene playbooks in more than 400 schools (public-private) reaching more than 40,000 students. The program posters were also endorsed and deployed across 10,000 rural child-care centres. Lifebuoy along with the Ministry also set-up 100 handwashing stations in areas of high footfall.

Sanitation and hygiene for better health

Domex Toilet Academy

The United Nations report that six out of ten people globally do not have access to safe sanitation facilities. This forces nearly 892 million to defecate in the open and statistics have shown that one in three people globally, are at a risk of contracting diseases due to the lack of access to a clean toilet.

Improving access to sanitation

The Domex Disinfect for Safety Initiative expanded beyond toilets to offer clinical disinfection products and services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Domex partnered with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai to offer disinfection services for key strategic places, including public toilets. Domex also partnered with Mumbai’s railways as they opened up their services to the general public, to help disinfect key stations like CST, Dadar, Thane, Andheri and Borivali.

Since 2017, the Domex Toilet Academy (DTA) has moved its focus from ‘Access’ to ‘Usage’ through a science-based behaviour change model. DTA partnered with PSI India to reach out to 0.8 million people in 400 villages in Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh with strategic interventions and communications, between 2017 - 2020. This behaviour change model has shown encouraging results with a sharp increase in toilet usage and cleaning, across age groups and gender. The scale-up model has also been adopted and is being implemented by the government from their resources across the district in more than 1,000 villages.

Swachh Aadat, Swachh Bharat (SASB) programme

Clean India Mission

India faces significant challenges in the areas of water, sanitation, and hygiene.

Our ‘Swachh Aadat, Swachh Bharat’ programme is in line with the Government of India’s ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission)’ to promote good health and hygiene practices. In 2020, the programme continued to promote these practices by stressing the need to adopt three clean habits:

  1. Washing hands five times a day.
  2. Using a toilet for defecation.
  3. Adopting safe drinking water practices.

Swachh Aadat Curriculum

We have created the Swachh Aadat Curriculum that teaches children in classes 1-5 the importance of adopting three clean habits – washing hands with soap, safe drinking water practices and using clean toilets, over a 21-day period.

The textbook version of the curriculum has been rolled out in government schools across Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and Haryana with a total reach of 2.1 million children.

In the absence of in-school learning in 2020, and to ensure that learning didn’t stop, we pivoted our existing model to digital and adapted the WASH curriculum into 21 interactive animated videos. The digital version of the curriculum was piloted in Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Delhi with organisations such as Diksha (Government of Maharashtra), Million Sparks & Save the Children India. It taught primary school students the importance of hygiene in these unprecedented times; in a fun and interesting manner.

Project Suvidha

‘Suvidha’ is first-of-its-kind urban water, hygiene and sanitation community centre, that was first set up at Chiragnagar - Ghatkopar, one of the largest slums in Mumbai. It provides drinking water, sanitation, handwashing, shower facilities, and laundry services at an affordable cost. The centre uses circular economy principles to reduce water use. It was built in partnership with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, Pratha Samajik Sanstha, and United Way Mumbai.

We have now opened four more Suvidha centres in Mumbai in partnership with HSBC to give people access to clean water, sanitation and laundry facilities. Via the five existing centres in Mumbai, we have saved over 25 million litres of water.

Providing safe drinking water

Pureit Safe Drinking Water

61% of Indian households do not treat water before consumption which increases the incidence of waterborne diseases.

Four in ten people do not have access to safe drinking water which leaves 8 million people at the risk of life-threatening waterborne illnesses. We strive to provide access to safe drinking water with the aim of reducing the risk of life-threatening diseases like diarrhoea.

Stunting, a condition that is partly caused by the consumption of unsafe water affects 159 million children under the age of five. Flooding and droughts contribute to the lack of access to safe water.

Pureit’s health and business impact

Pureit, our innovative household water purifier and a purpose-led brand, is leading our movement to provide safe drinking water to millions of people. With its best-in-class technology that purifies and enriches water, Pureit has provided over 98.9 billion litres of safe drinking water in India.

Pureit offers a range of water purification solutions across three models of technology:

  • Gravity (Purifies water without the need for electricity)
  • UV (Ultraviolet water purification, which disinfects bacteria from water)
  • RO (Reverse Osmosis, a water treatment process that removes contaminants by using pressure to force water molecules through a semi-permeable membrane, which filters out the contaminants)

Adding the traditional goodness of copper to pure water

Copper’s anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties help neutralise toxins and remain a popular advocate in Ayurveda medicine. Drinking copper-infused water enables the proper functioning of different organs and supports mineral processes.

Our Pureit Copper+ RO model, introduced in 2019, uses smart Copper Charge Technology™ to ensure just the right amount of copper in every glass of water.

Supporting self-esteem and wellbeing

In India, 6 out of 10 girls say that they are not confident about the way they look. A lack of confidence impacts self-esteem, and this, hinders the girls and women from reaching their full potential in their careers, their futures, and their health.

Dove Self-esteem programme

Globally 8 out of 10 girls* opt out of key life activities when they do not feel good about the way they look. In India, 6 in 10 girls* say they do not have high body esteem. Our mission is to ensure the next generation grows up to enjoy a positive relationship with the way they look to reach their full potential. We’re helping young people to build positive body confidence and self-esteem.

Being the largest provider of self-esteem education in the world, this project strives to create a world where young people grow up feeling confident and empowered to love themselves no matter what.

For more than 15 years, we have been helping young people with self-esteem education, reaching over 69 million lives globally in 150 countries. In India, we have been working with partners such as Fountainhead and WAGGGs and have reached out to over 1.7 million young people from 2014 to 2020.

In 2019, at Women Deliver, the largest conference on the Health and Rights of Girl & Women, Dove and UNICEF*** announced their partnership to provide self-esteem education to young people globally with a view to reach 10 million lives across 3 countries (India, Indonesia and Brazil). In India, the body confidence education material is committed to empowering 6.25 million young people across 8 states by 2024, out of the 10 million lives.

*Claims are based on research conducted by Edelman Intelligence (2017). n = 5165 girls aged 10-17 across 14 countries
** The 2017 Dove Global Girls Beauty and Confidence Report
*** UNICEF does not endorse any company, brand, product, or service.

Asha Daan

Launched in 1976 on a 72,500 square feet area in Mumbai, we supported Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity to set up Asha Daan – A home for the abandoned, challenged, HIV-positive, and the destitute. We continue to maintain the premises to date and have taken care of over 400 people which includes infants, destitute men and women, and HIV-positive patients.

Currently, we are working towards re-developing the home to take better care of the people by providing them with better facilities.

COVID-19 relief work

HUL was one of the first corporates to commit INR 100 crores, complementing Government’s work towards society in a battle against COVID-19.

Product donations

In partnership with the government and various NGOs, HUL donated over 2 crore soaps and sanitisers, bottles of toilet and surface cleaners, packs of Horlicks and other products to the frontline medical professionals, police officials, sanitation workers, migrant population, innumerable vulnerable citizens of the country. These products were delivered to over 100 locations in 20 states, from the urban slums of Mumbai to tea estates of Assam.

Public awareness campaigns

Within 14 days of announcing its commitment, HUL created the #VirusKiKadiTodo campaign in association with UNICEF that reached 600 million people across small towns and rural India through television (Sony, Star) and digital (YouTube, Facebook) platforms. With a recall of 72%, #VirusKiKadiTodo was a behaviour change campaign comprising 48 creatives to drive home the simple, positive yet powerful message of social distancing, generosity, and hand hygiene.

In addition, HUL also developed an awareness campaign with UNICEF to inform community healthcare professionals and further strengthen the community response to COVID-19. The campaign reached over 14 lakh individuals across six states in the country.

Healthcare infrastructure

We supported healthcare infrastructure in India through various interventions. HUL partnered with medical institutions to provide about 75,000 test kits to help ramp up testing. This was done in collaboration with the public health authorities near our factories and offices in several states including UP, MP, West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Dadra & Nagar Haveli.

In Maharashtra, last year, we supported hospitals with medical equipment and personal protection equipment (PPE) in consultation with public health officials which included 29 ventilators and 28 oxygen concentrators, besides other equipment.

We also partnered with the Apollo Hospitals, State Bank of India, OYO, Lemon Tree and others to create isolation facilities in metros, equipped with medical supervision, to reduce the burden on hospitals. In addition, together with the local administration, we helped setup a 30-bed isolation facility in Haridwar and Nasik last year.

HUL also developed exclusive batches of Lifebuoy sanitisers and Zinc supplemented Horlicks. These were donated to front-line medical professionals in more than 50 COVID-19 hospitals in 12 cities PAN India in record time.

Food donation drive & supporting migrant workers

We delivered kits containing one month's food ration to families of over 40,000+ students to ensure access to a well-balanced meal. Our factory teams donated two weeks’ food ration to close to 1.2 lakh migrant workers’ families in 200+ locations. Further, we helped returning migrants and landless farmers to get job cards and access work in their villages through the government’s flagship program, MGNREGA.

India Protectors Alliance (IPA)

HUL established the India Protectors’ Alliance (IPA) as a founding member in association with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and RBL Bank. IPA is a corporate led alliance established to protect frontline workers including doctors, nurses, teachers, sanitation workers – who have been the protectors of the society amidst the pandemic. Joined by over 25 other private sector leaders including IKEA, UNDP, Adidas and American Express; the alliance has partnered with the Governments and communities.