By Mary Nnah
Renowned Afro-pop singer and songwriter, Omawumi Megbele was recently unveiled as the new face of Unilever’s antiseptic soap brand, Lifebuoy, during the brand’s relaunch in Nigeria penultimate Thursday.
During the event, Lifebuoy’s ‘Help a Child Reach 5’ global campaign was also brought to focus.
The campaign will advance critical hygiene interventions such as regular handwashing with soap to prevent infections.
Nigerian singer and Lifebuoy’s newest brand ambassador, Omawumi said, “As a mother of two young children, I simply cannot imagine losing them to preventable infections.
“It is a shame that hundreds of thousands of Nigerian children die before their fifth birthday each year, so we have to take further steps to address this issue.
“I’m thrilled to partner Lifebuoy to empower parents with the lifesaving message of handwashing with soap. I look forward to lending my voice and influence to advance this wonderful effort.”
Speaking at the launch event, the Category Manager, Skin Cleansing, Unilever Nigeria Plc, Osato Evbuomwan, said, “Private corporations can play important roles in impacting the survival of the society, and through the Lifebuoy brand, Unilever is absolutely committed to changing the hygiene behaviour of a billion people worldwide by 2020.
“With strategic partnerships, we can expand programs to drive lasting and impactful change within Nigerian communities.”
The antiseptic soap brand will partner Wellbeing Foundation Africa and Sightsavers to improve maternal and child health in Nigeria to address child mortality due to preventable diseases in Nigeria.
Giving the keynote address, Deputy Director, Co-curricular Department, Lagos State Ministry of Education, Ogunlamoye Ayodeji said, “As a nation, our growth depends solely on the education of the majority of our people, but not many are willing to apply their knowledge for benefit of the nation.
“Since we recognise this challenge, the state government is working in line with Lifebuoy’s ‘Help a Child Reach 5’ initiative – an endeavour which addresses the mortality rate of children under five”.
Commending Unilever and Lifebuoy for the initiative, the deputy director pledged government’s support and commitment in line with state policy on public/private participation.
Country Director, Sightsavers, Dr. Sunday Isiyaku, further explained that classrooms are important touch points to empower Nigerian youths, especially as a wide-reaching platform to bring hygiene practices acquired in school back to their communities – a critical step to ending the spread of neglected tropical diseases like blindness-causing trachoma.
CEO, Wellbeing Foundation Africa, Mrs Amy Oyekunle, also said: “Newborn babies are vulnerable to infections, which is why ensuring access and availability to skilled care under hygienic conditions is imperative.
“Along with Lifebuoy, we seek to empower mothers in Nigeria through our MamaCare classes, led by qualified midwives, to help make handwashing with soap an everyday habit early on.
“This partnership supports our global campaign, led by our founder and president, Mrs. Toyin Ojora Saraki, to ensure mothers and their babies survive and thrive.”
More than 215,000 children under the age of five in Nigeria die due to preventable infections like diarrhoea and pneumonia each year – the highest across Africa.
The simple act of handwashing with soap is one of the most cost-effective, yet often overlooked ways that could have prevented many of these deaths.
Handwashing with soap saves lives and Lifebuoy’s Help A Child Reach five campaign aims to eradicate preventable deaths from diseases and illnesses like diarrhea, by teaching lifesaving handwashing habits.
As the world’s leading health soap, Lifebuoy aims to make a difference by creating accessible hygiene products (soap) and promoting healthy hygiene habits.
With this in mind, Lifebuoy aims to impact the handwashing behaviour of one billion people given that since 2010, Lifebuoy has impacted the handwashing behaviour of 426 million people across 30 countries.