Lifebuoy celebrates Global Handwashing Day

Faranani Primary School

CEO Peter Cowan and Vice President of Unilever Africa Bruno SA GHD Kids SA GHD give a high five for Global

Lifebuoy today celebrated the 8th Global Handwashing Day (GHD) together with Global Handwashing Day co-founder and Unilever Hygiene and Nutrition Social Mission Director for Africa, Dr. Myriam Sidibe. Also in attendance were Unilever Executive Vice-President of Africa, Bruno Witvoet, Unilever SA CEO, Peter Cowan, and Acting Chief Director: Environmental and Port Health Services, Ms Aneliswa Cele.

Lifebuoy chose to mark the occasion at one of the schools taking part in its’ ‘School of 5’ hygiene educational programme. Guests and learners gathered at Faranani Primary School in Soweto, where over 2000 schoolchildren demonstrated the importance of handwashing as an easy and affordable method of disease prevention.

Dr. Sidibe said she was impressed with the great strides Lifebuoy has made since 2012 to reach its goal of 1 billion people by 2020 with its’ hygiene initiatives.

“Lifebuoy’s Help a Child Reach 5’ initiative, which launched in 2012 is now the world’s largest behaviour change programme to date and has so far reached over 250 million people globally and 8 million locally,” she said

Every year, 1.7 million children under the age of 5 die from infections such as diarrhoea and pneumonia. Lifebuoy’s handwashing campaign aims to educate underprivileged communities around the world that handwashing with soap is one of the most effective and low cost ways to prevent these infections. ‘Help a Child Reach 5’ has two core pillars; changing the behaviour of schoolchildren and their parents via an interactive schools solution and affecting the behaviour of new mothers and health care workers via a neonatal programme.

“South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa account for 81% of all child deaths. 81%! It’s these regions that face the biggest challenge in stopping their children dying unnecessarily which is why it is so important that you are all here today to celebrate Global Handwashing Day and raise awareness of this lifesaving habit,” said Dr Sidibe.

Lifebuoy recently released its latest Help a Child Reach 5 video (Click to WATCH) to help drive awareness of how critical it is to have good hygiene in the newborn period.

“In 2016 we are aiming to expand our neo-natal programmes, while continuing to build on our highly successful schools initiative,” Dr Sidibe said, “Governments can prevent diarrhoea and pneumonia and make rapid progress towards reducing child mortality by partnering in handwashing behaviour change programmes like ours. To that end, Unilever is calling on governments in Africa and South Asia to implement policies to promote the lifesaving benefits of handwashing with soap, particularly for birth attendants and new mothers, and strengthen these efforts by working in partnership with the private sector.”

Representing the Department of Health, Ms Aneliswa Cele, Acting Chief Director: Environmental and Port Health Services said, “Handwashing promotion shouldn’t be seen as a once-off event. It must be promoted as a priority hygiene programme aimed at making an impact and achieving behaviour change with women and school going children as the primary target audience. 

In support of this great initiative of Global Handwashing Day, the Minister and Director General of Health have decided to dedicate the month of October to become National Handwashing Month. Hand hygiene activities will be conducted and promoted throughout the country in various provinces and municipalities during this month and beyond.”

Unilever brightFuture ambassadors, Mafikizolo were also there to raise awareness for this important cause. Together with Dr Myriam Sidibe and the Unilever team, they engaged with the children to demonstrate the correct way to wash hands. They also performed the song, “Tell Everybody”, which was created in collaboration with Unilever and Global Citizen to communicate the Global Goals for sustainable development.

Unilever Executive Vice-President of Africa, Bruno Witvoet emphasised Unilever’s commitment to creating a bright future for South Africa and the world.

The Global Goals for sustainable development were officially adopted by the UN on 25 September 2015. One hundred and ninety three world leaders have now committed to 17 Global Goals that aim to end extreme poverty, fight inequality & injustice and fix climate change in the next 15 years.

“Unilever believes in the Global Goals. We believe that, with the collaboration of government, business, communities and individuals, it is possible for us to achieve these ambitious targets by 2030,” said Bruno Witvoet, “Each of Unilever’s Brands with Purpose is aligned with one or more of the Global Goals. Today, we celebrate Lifebuoy’s commitment to Goal 3 – good health and wellbeing, and Goal 6 – clean water and sanitation. 

Every day our people, brands and operations are doing what they can to help solve the world’s challenges. Our company is demonstrating that a focus on sustainability can drive growth, ensure we stay competitive and differentiate ourselves from our competitors. And thanks to our scale and expertise, we believe we really can be a force for good.”

About Lifebuoy

Lifebuoy is one of the oldest international brands in the World. Established in 1894 by Lever Brothers, Lifebuoy is one of the jewels in Unilever’s Crown. Lifebuoy’s 110 year old core positioning is Championing Health and Hygiene. Lifebuoy’s Handwashing With Soap intervention programme has helped to save hundreds of lives in South Africa and is striving to achieve Global Goal No 3 – Good health and wellbeing and Global Goal No 6 – Clean water and sanitation.

About Unilever South Africa

Unilever South Africa (Pty Ltd) is one of the largest FMCG companies in South Africa. The Company is over 100 years old, with brands like Sunlight, OMO, Lux, Knorr, Vaseline, Shield, Sunsilk, Flora etc. that are household names throughout the country. Unilever South Africa has over 3500 employees based across two offices and five manufacturing locations in South Africa. Unilever has been rated as the Top Employer in South Africa 2014/2015 for the second year in a row. For more information visit –

For more information about Unilever and its brands, please visit

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Sibonile Dube Communications Director

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