Unilever, through its health soap Lifebuoy, launched its’ biggest campaign yet celebrating 10 years of Global Handwashing Day (GHD), a day that sees millions of people all over the world recognising the importance of handwashing with soap and raising awareness on its life-saving impact. As part of Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan, Lifebuoy aims to help 1 billion people around the world improve their handwashing habits by 2020.
At St. Camillus Primary School in Hammanskraal today, Lifebuoy and the Department of Basic Education commemorated Global Handwashing Day by washing the hands of the 700 000th child in 2018 to be educated on handwashing for hygiene through the new National Schools Hygiene and Sanitation Programme.
The programme is part of a 5 year partnership that began this year in February between Unilever and the Department of Basic Education and is being implemented by teachers in 15 000 South African schools, teaching grade 1 learners lessons on handwashing for hygiene from Lifebuoy, toilet hygiene habits from Domestos and oral hygiene from Mentadent P.
Over the last 10 years, Lifebuoy’s GHD campaign has positively reached out to tens of millions of people across more than 30 countries. This year the event in Hammanskraal saw Lifebuoy teaming up with the Department of Education and Department of Health, who celebrated with over 1000 learners and around 500 parents from St Camillus Primary. Grade 1 learners whom had taken part in the Schools Programme demonstrated what they had learned for their parents and Department of Health officials demonstrated correct handwashing before the guests were addressed by School Principal, Mr Maphayi; Acting DDG: Primary Health Care, Ms APR Cele from the Department of Health; Unilever Africa President, Bruno Witvoet and DDG: Education Support, Mr V Mpofu from the Gauteng Department of Education.
“Lifebuoy is the world’s leading germ protection soap and is the only brand to have reached over 11 million South Africans with hygiene education since 2010. Through this partnership with the Department of Basic Education, we are privileged to be able to educate even more young children with this important knowledge. Our aim was to educate 1 million children by the end of 2018 and it looks as though we will meet that target. We are extremely grateful to the Department of Education, the school principals and teachers, the parents and children for embracing and supporting this programme.” said Unilever Africa President, Bruno Witvoet.
Gauteng Education Department representative Mr Mpofu addressed the learners and parents saying, “We are here today as government to ensure that the issue of school health takes its place in the education sector…..It’s important that we promote issues of health, a healthy nation is a successful nation. We always say to learners it’s better to prevent than to cure…..Our learners are taught about the prevention of diseases, if we do that, it means there will be less people in hospital.”
Also in attendance at the event was DJ Zinhle, whom South Africans will have seen in the new Lifebuoy TV commercial and has been announced as the new brand ambassador. She and Unilever Africa President Bruno Witvoet, together with Mr V Mpofu The Deputy Director General from the Gauteng Department of Education, shared a symbolic High 5 before handing over a donation of new washbasins for St Camillus School today, which they hope will allow the learners to practice the handwashing habits they learned at school on the 5 key occasions.
“First and foremost I am a mother of a young child, whom I love very much and like most mothers, I am very concerned about my child’s hygiene,” said DJ Zinhle, “I would be devastated if my child’s future were to be robbed by preventable infections. I believe celebrities need to lend their voice to causes that help build and strengthen our communities. That is why I have partnered with Lifebuoy. I hope to rally all South Africans to change the way we approach hygiene. Let’s celebrate GHD by helping to spread the lifesaving message of handwashing with soap.”
Senior PR Lead for Unilever Africa Beauty & Personal Care, Sphelele Mjadu said, “GHD has gone from being a small-scale event to a global celebration that brings together corporate, governments, schools and the public. Lifebuoy is honoured to have co-founded this day with the Global Handwashing Partnership (GHP) and we continue to run one of the world’s largest hygiene programmes, reaching over 426 million people across 30 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America since 2010. We’re doing our part this GHD to champion the adoption of good hygiene habits of handwashing with soap through a simple gesture, a high5.”