LAUNCHES NEW FILM ON NEONATAL & ANNOUNCES BIG HANDWASHING INITIATIVE IMPACTING MILLIONS OF RURAL PEOPLE IN INDIA
Mumbai, 29 October 2015 – Hindustan Unilever’s health soap Lifebuoy today announced the latest edition of its Help a Child Reach 5 handwashing programme with a special focus on the importance of hygiene in the neonatal period – the first 28 days of child’s life. At an event hosted in Mumbai with 100 pregnant mothers, Handwashing and Help a Child Reach 5 ambassador, Kajol & Samir Singh, Executive Director, Hindustan Unilever, unveiled the new Help a Child Reach 5 neonatal film and announced a big handwashing initiative impacting millions of rural people in Bihar, India in partnership with the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF).
Over 40%[i] of deaths amongst children under the age of five occur in the first 28 days of life - the neonatal period when children are most vulnerable. The simple act of handwashing with soap can prevent many of these deaths. Handwashing with soap is one of the most cost-effective ways to save child lives.
Samir Singh, Executive Director, Hindustan Unilever, said: “We are excited to release this film and take the hygiene message to where it matters the most: to new mothers in the first 28 days after delivery. The Help a Child Reach 5 campaign started in Thesgora, a village in Madhya Pradesh that has one of the highest rates of diarrhoea, and showcased remarkable results. We now impact child health at a very large scale in partnership with the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation.”
The newest Help a Child Reach 5 film was shot by the famous feature film director, Anand Gandhi. The film showcases the emotional journey of a pregnant mother and her aspirations for her child. It highlights the importance of doing something very simple, yet important during pregnancy and early in the child’s life: washing hands with soap.
Lifebuoy’s ‘Help A Child Reach 5’ Handwashing Ambassador Kajol Devgn said, “I was truly touched to see the new film on hygiene in the neonatal period. I am happy that we are reaching millions of people with lifesaving message on hygiene. I am proud to be a part of Lifebuoy’s Help a Child Reach 5 handwashing programme over the past three years.”
CIFF and Hindustan Unilever via The Bhavishya Alliance Child Nutrition Initiatives is announcing a partnership that aims to change the handwashing behaviours of 9 million children in Bihar. In the pilot on ground activities, the partnership reached out to 560,000 children in Bihar. The project aims to reach up to 50,000 government rural primary schools in nearly 30 districts in Bihar. This project will be delivered by almost 600 trained health promoters who will visit villages with targeted materials and activities for children and mothers to reinforce handwashing behaviours. This programme will also educate thousands of pregnant women and new mothers on the benefits of handwashing with soap.
Anagha Khot, Manager– Strategy & Partnerships, South Asia of Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, said, “Handwashing with soap is among the most cost-effective ways of preventing common infections in children. We are happy to partner with Unilever to reach millions of children across the state of Bihar.”
Unilever is calling for a global-level hygiene indicator to be included in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) – the goals that will set the development agenda until 2030. While the goals were announced in 2015, the indicators are yet to be finalized. What is included and measured will get prioritised by country governments. Hygiene should be included as an indicator to ensure it stays on development agendas, especially in India where it can make the most difference in helping improve newborn and child health.