Africa In Focus

Africa In Focus: "The mainstream thinking now is that Africa is different and we could get it right if we want. The choice is fully ours, and it is now time for us to define what we want."

African Development Bank (AFDB) President, Dr. Donald Kaberuka.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Global Handwashing Day: Unilever Plc partners Earth Institute To Save Lives

As the world celebrates the the fifth anniversary of Global Handwashing Day, Unilever and the Earth Institute have today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in New York today to bring handwashing with soap, a lifesaving habit - to Millennium Villages across 10 sub-Saharan African countries. The African countries targeted are Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda.

The MOU which was signed by Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Paul Polman, CEO Unilever supports Unilever's goal to deliver on one of its commitment under its Sustainable Living Plan by helping more than one billion people take action to improve their health and well-being.  The initiative also aims to decrease incidence in diarrhoea diseases, promote gender equality, increase school attendance, enhance productivity and well-being for all community members.

“The partnership will also focus on governments. Governments should integrate handwashing with soap into national health and education policy frameworks. Governments and aid donors should ensure adequate finance for hygiene facilities and water availabilities. Business must act too, ensuring their products are even more affordable, and varied so that handwashing with soap is done everywhere and by all. Public-private partnerships have role to play and can help governments harness the power of business for the benefit of their population's health,” a statement released on the partnership said.

Consistent evidence shows that handwashing with soap at critical times – before eating or preparing food and after using the toilet – can reduce diarrhea risk by 45 percent and acute respiratory infections such as pneumonia, by 23 percent.  Studies also reveal that primary school absenteeism due to diarrhea and respiratory infections dropped between 20 percent and 50 percent as a result of better handwashing practices .

The Global Handwashing Day is celebrated on the 15th of October in over 100 countries to create awareness on the importance of handwashing with soap as a lifesaving habit. It was founded by Unilever through its Lifebuoy brand in partnership with the Public Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap (PPPHW) alongside UNICEF, P&G, USAID, the Work Bank Water and Sanitation Programme, US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the Academy for Educational Development.

Millions of people around the world are thereby urged to pledge on to help Lifebuoy and its partners assist more children receive hygiene education through their dedicated handwashing behavior change programs.

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