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High 5 for Handwashing in Johannesburg

On 13 October 2016, Unilever, Gauteng MEC of Education and representatives from UNICEF celebrated the life-saving habit of handwashing with learners and their parents from M.C. Weiler Primary School in Alexandra township, Johannesburg. Unilever’s Lifebuoy reiterated the importance of handwashing through their “High 5 for Handwashing’ programme. “Teaching young children a healthy handwashing routine with soap and water at specific occasions is very important and can help prevent the spread of diseases and save lives. It is with this mindset that during Global Handwashing Day, we are excited that Lifebuoy, has reached over 337 million people across 28 countries with its behaviour change programmes,” said Peter Cowan, Unilever South Africa’s Executive Vice President.

“Global Handwashing Day takes place annually on the 15th of October and is celebrated by over 200 million people in more than 100 countries around the world,” said Mr Hervé Ludovic de Lys, Country Director, UNICEF. “On this day, we aim to highlight the importance of handwashing with soap as a potentially lifesaving habit. It was great to see that organisations such as Unilever are encouraging consumers to do good while doing well,” Mr Hervé Ludovic de Lys added. Recognising the need for ongoing intervention and education prompted Unilever’s ongoing pledge to its awareness programmes. The two pillar approach focuses on the neonatal phase when children are most vulnerable to infection as well as the primary school phase when children are more susceptible to behaviour lessons and can act as ‘agents of change’, spreading the handwashing solution message among their families and friends.

“High 5 for Handwashing” is part of Unilever Lifebuoy brand’s ‘Help a Child Reach 5’ campaign and is a symbolic gesture that transcends cultural, geographical and language barriers, galvanising local communities to adopt the lifesaving habit of handwashing with soap. The programme teaches children and adults that washing hands before preparing food and eating meals, after using the bathroom and during bathing can save lives. “This initiative continues to align to the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, which has, to date, helped around 482 million people to improve their health and hygiene, through handwashing and oral hygiene,” explains Cowan. “Unilever’s Lifebuoy brand, through this programme, has educated over 11 million South Africans, including over 2 million children in 4,000 schools and it is great to have helped another 1,500 children from Alexandra on this Global Handwashing Day,” he continued. “We are well on our way of reaching our 2020 goal of teaching 18 million South Africa proper handwashing habits.”

Through this programme, Lifebuoy aims to increase the impact of its incredibly successful School of 5 programme and replicate it with other Unilever leading brands. This week, another 30 000 learners from 31 schools will start the Unilever brightFuture Schools Programme, beginning with the healthy habit of handwashing with Lifebuoy. “I wish to acknowledge the immense contribution that our partners Lifebuoy and UNICEF are making in the lives of many school children across South Africa. For us, it is important that we continue to work together to create a healthy school environment by promoting the general health and wellbeing of our learners and educators. Through such initiatives, we aim to further address and facilitate early identification and treatment of health barriers to learning in order to empower the future leaders of our country,” says Dr Granville Whittle, Deputy Director-General: Care and Support service, Department of Basic Education.

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