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Washing hands, saving lives

In an effort to highlight the importance of hand washing and to prevent the unnecessary spread of disease, Unilever celebrates Global Handwashing Day 2014 with the launch of Lifebuoy’s “Partner a Community” initiative in Mandeni, Kwa–Zulu Natal.

This project focuses on rural areas in an effort to decrease childhood diseases with the slogan "Help a Child Reach Five".

To many people, the act of washing ones hands has become second nature. Step one; wet hands. Step two; add soap. Step three; rub hands together for 10 to 15 seconds. Step four; rub between fingers. Step five; rinse well and dry with a clean towel. Many take for granted the fact that everyone is aware of how and when to wash their hands; before eating and preparing food, after using the toilet and after sneezing, blowing your nose and coughing.

Lifebuoy has a rich heritage focussed on the promotion of hygiene, which extends as far back as 1796.As it continues to honour its commitment to germ protection, and with the support of Unilever, Lifebuoy aims to bring Global Handwashing Day to a wider audience and influence government policy in order to make hygiene behaviour change education part of every school curricula.

This initiative has seen 35 schools and 8 clinics in Mandeni participating, reaching over 18 000 children. The objectives of this campaign are to underscore hygiene conditions and education in rural communities, to educate the Mandeni community regarding the importance and benefits of proper hand hygiene, to drive awareness regarding the importance of hygiene (especially when caring for children and new-born babies) and to stimulate conversations regarding how certain diseases and infections can be avoided through effective hand hygiene.

“Handwashing with soap is one of the most effective and low cost ways to prevent diseases like pneumonia and diarrhoea, which stop 1.7 million children every year from reaching their fifth birthday. .We know from clinical research that handwashing with soap at key occasions can reduce the risk of diarrhoea by up to approximately 45%. That means that handwashing with soap could help a lot more children reach their fifth birthday,” said Peter Cowan, Unilever SA Chairman.

“Our vision is to create a Brighter Future for all South Africans through improving the health and hygiene in communities where we operate. As more awareness is created around personal hygiene, we are hopeful that this important message will filter through to various groups of society as the first step towards creating a safe, germ-free and better place for all.”

Education breeds knowledge. Knowledge breeds power. With the right knowledge lives can not only be improved, but saved too.

Unilever South Africa - Unathi Mgobozi External Affairs Manager

+27 31 570 3000
031 570 2470
Unathi.Mgobozi@unilever.com

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