- Written by Queen Munguti for KenyaKidz
On October 15th, the world commemorated the Global Handwashing day, which seeks to educate the society on the importance of cleaning one’s hands with water and soap in order to prevent diseases and illness.
Hygiene related diseases, which are easily prevented through the incorporation of basic hygiene practices into our lifestyles, have been reported to be the leading cause of death among children under the age of five. Studies show that washing hands with soap is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent diseases.
In sub-Saharan Africa, the total number of under-five deaths was 2.8m in 2015, accounting for almost half of the total number of global under-five deaths in the same period, according to the World Health Organization Global Health Observatory data repository.
The same report indicates that the total number of neonatal deaths in sub-Saharan Africa was over one million in 2015 and over 780,000 under-five children in sub-Saharan Africa die each year from pneumonia and diarrhoea, which accounts for over half (54.1 per cent) of the global total (490,372 from pneumonia and 295,250 from diarrhoea).
“These numbers are a reflection of our society which is further highlighted by the Cholera outbreak which has unfortunately claimed lives. Basic hygiene practices need to be deliberately incorporated in our lives. Top of the list is the use of soap while washing hands at crucial moments such as before having a meal. At Lifebuoy, we understand the impact that handwashing can make and today we are celebrating with the world the achievements that behavior change can bring to a child’s life,” said Myriam Sidibe, Lifebuoy Hygiene and Nutrition Social Mission.
The handwashing programmes implemented as part of the Help a Child Reach 5 campaign are part of Lifebuoy’s broader handwashing programme portfolio. In Kenya, the Lifebuoy School of 5 Handwashing’ intensive 21 day-programme targets to change the hygiene habits of 12 million Kenyans by 2020 through its Help a Child Reach 5 programme.
Unilever Lifebuoy initiated social programs at a global scale to address the issue of making hand washing with soap an everyday habit. Since 2016 the School of 5 and Super School of 5 has reached more than 2 million and educated more than 600,000 children in an attempt to change behaviour.