Manufacturer of food and home and personal care products, Unilever Nigeria, has promised to save the lives of 2 million Nigerian children through this year’s Lifebuoy Handwashing campaign.
Through the initiative, which was launched last year for 37,809 children, the company wants children to imbibe the habit of washing their hands before and after meals.
Speaking during the experiential campaign at Ilupeju, Lagos, Managing Director of the company, Mr. Thabo Mabe, revealed that annually over 2.1 million children die of diarrhea and pneumonia before the age of five, especially in Africa and Asia.
He said the figures can be drastically reduced if they are educated on the benefits of hygiene, adding that the Global Handwashing Day is celebrated on October 15 in over 100 countries worldwide, with the aim to put spotlight on hand washing with soap as a lifesaving habit.
On his company’s initiative, he said it was a strategic intent of Unilever to create a better life for all Nigerians health-wise.
According to him; “On the 15th of October this year, Global Handwashing will be five years old. As we all know, we are working towards the reduction of diarrhea and pneumonia incidence in children under 5 by promoting the washing of hands at 5 key occasions.
“As part of our goals this year, Unilever will be celebrating children who reach the age of five around the country. We will continue from our milestones last year with which we plan to achieve over 7 million pledges this year and deploy hand-washing points to the various schools selected,” he explained.
Unilever, he added, would not rest on its oars regarding the project, and between 10-15 months, will visit 1000 schools in Lagos on a sensitisation campaign, while its staff will donate 300 hours of their time to the exercise.
“We are asking Nigerians to pledge to defeat diarrhea. They should visit our website to make pledges. For every pledge, Lifebuoy will help more children reach five through hygiene education,” he added.
In her keynote address, National President, Medical Women’s Association, Dr. Christina Campbell, remarked that the initiative was targeted at shoring up the health of children and getting them to imbibe the habit so their lives could be prolonged.
Campbell, who noted that the initiative was timely, added that it was given more teeth through the reliable assistance provided by Unilever.
“For five years, the Hand washing Day has been celebrated all over the world because we know children, especially in the developed world; don’t have the opportunity to live up to the age of five to become brilliant leaders of tomorrow. That is why we are here today to mark the event through the simple habit of washing their hands,” she said.