Dakar, Senegal 25th May – Unilever, through health soap brand Lifebuoy is calling on African leaders gathering in Senegal this week for AfricaSan – the continent’s pre-eminent sanitation and hygiene conference – to recognise the role of public private partnerships in addressing newborn and child health. The move comes as Lifebuoy announces the renewal of its partnership with USAID and the expansion of newborn hygiene programmes across Kenya following a successful four-year partnership. Lifebuoy aims to reach 71 million across Africa by 2020 as part of its behaviour change programme which has engaged 257 million people in 24 countries, since 2010.
In its mission to reach 1 billion people with its lifesaving message of handwashing with soap, Lifebuoy joined forces with USAID and its Maternal and Child Survival Programme (MCSP), to create a dedicated newborn programme to make handwashing with soap commonplace among mothers. Worldwide, 40% of under-5 deaths occur in the newborn period and handwashing with soap is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce preventable diseases like diarrhoea and pneumonia, the main causes of child mortality.
The programme will combine Lifebuoy’s marketing and consumer expertise and proven handwashing behaviour change methodology, with MCSP’s ability to deploy programmes on a large scale, allowing the partnership to reach millions of new mothers. The collaboration proves the vital role that public private partnerships play in public health interventions in Africa and beyond.
“Most newborn deaths due to infection could be averted through simple preventive measures, such as improving hygiene and ensuring curative care is available to sick children. Unilever and USAID renew our commitment to scale up newborn hygiene programs together. A simple hygiene message – handwashing with soap – can help save the lives of babies,” said Katie Taylor, Deputy Child and Maternal Survival Coordinator at the U.S. Agency for International Development. “With Unilever and Lifebuoy, we are combining our expertise to achieve real change for the mothers and children in Africa – so every child in Africa can live beyond their fifth birthday.”
Senegalese politician and award-winning singer Youssou N’Dour has pledged his support to Lifebuoy’s Help A Child Reach 5 campaign to highlight the importance of hygiene in reducing child mortality, particularly in Africa. He is described as one of the world’s greatest singers and has advocated for children in Africa and abroad. “50% of the world’s under-5 deaths happens in Africa, with 1 in every 10 children born dying before their 5th birthday,” said N’Dour. “The simple act of handwashing with soap can save children’s lives and should play a key part in the post-2015 development agenda. I am calling on policymakers and governments in Africa to help make this happen by expanding handwashing education programmes.”
The Fourth Regional Conference on Sanitation and Hygiene in Africa (AfricaSan 4) is focusing on the theme: Making Sanitation for All a Reality in Africa. With the launch of the United Nations’ new Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) in September, Lifebuoy is raising awareness of the need to track handwashing facilities and behaviours in the water and sanitation goal (SDG 6). How individual countries choose to implement the SDGs and build the targets and indicators into their own national plans will determine their success and Lifebuoy is working to ensure its message “Handwashing with soap saves lives” is heard at the highest levels in Africa.
- Keith Obure, Apex Porter Novelli, +254 20 3861049, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Stephanie Siow, salt, +65 6329 1582, email@example.com
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