Fungai Lupande Herald Reporter
Unilever Zimbabwe has launched a hand-washing programme to reduce child mortality. The programme dubbed “Lifebouy hand-washing programme” was launched at Mberi Primary School in Chitungwiza last Friday and will run for 21 days under the theme, “Unite for a Healthy Zimbabwe”. Officially launching the programme, Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa said in a speech read on his behalf by the director of environmental health in the ministry, Dr Goldberg Magwadu, that the initiative would help reduce the child mortality rate by 50 percent.
“Young children are more vulnerable to ill effects of unsafe water, poor sanitation and lack of hygiene,” he said.
“Diarrhoea is the second biggest killer of children under the age of five in the world and around 2 000 children globally die every day.
“Good hand-washing habits are the first line of defence against the spread of many illnesses and the simple habit of hand-washing with soap is estimated to reduce the incidents of diarrhoea by half.”
Dr Parirenyatwa commended Lifebuoy as an anti-bacterial soap that helped fight against the spread of germs and bacteria.
“Children should be encouraged to wash their hands with soap as it is by far the best way to curb preventable disease,” he said.
“Parents and caregivers need to help children develop the habit of hand-washing with soap before eating and after using the toilet.”
Dr Parirenyatwa said Government would continue to give priority to investments in water, sanitation and hygiene.
Speaking at the same occasion, Unilever Southern Africa brand building director Ms Juliet Ziswa pledged to improve the health and hygiene of 700 000 people in Zimbabwe this year and one billion globally by 2020.
“This is not something we can do alone and are calling on doctors, teachers, mothers and community members to join in,” she said.
“A one-year study carried on nearly 1 700 families by Lifebouy revealed that 25 percent of children suffered less diarrhoeal disease and missed few school days just by hand-washing.”
Unilever’s corporate mission was established in the 1890’s, when the company was formed.
Present at the ceremony was Chitungwiza mayor Mr Philip Mutote and several Government officials.