‘Binzagr Unilever’, the Saudi Arabian arm of one of the world’s leading FMCG companies, celebrated Global Handwashing Day on October 15th 2015 by visiting 30 schools across the kingdom to educate over 15,000 children on the importance of handwashing in preventing the spread of infectious diseases.
The Global Handwashing Day programme and school visits were led by the company’s handwashing soap brand, ‘Lifebuoy’.
Global Handwashing Day, held in over 100 countries on the same day, is an occasion that global company Unilever helped co-found in 2008 through its Lifebuoy brand. In Saudi Arabia, the day added to a 9-month long outreach campaign by ‘Binzagr Unilever’ in collaboration with its ‘Lifebuoy Arabia’ brand that targeted families with a message of improving health, hygiene and quality of life across the country.
The campaign, which ran in mosques, malls, kiosks and supermarkets, and was bolstered by 2 million SMSes during Ramadan, reached over 2.2 million consumers.
“Binzagr Unilever is committed to making a difference to global health. Our world is changing, and we are more at risk from diseases and viruses such as diarrhoea, pneumonia, and MERS-CoV. We realize that our society and people are becoming more concerned about keeping themselves and their loved ones safe from infectious diseases. We are empowering people in Saudi Arabia to fight disease and improve quality of life and health. Global Handwashing Day, which was co-founded by the UNICEF and our Lifebuoy brand, gave us the opportunity to build on existing campaigns to deliver a powerful message in favour of health through handwashing,” said Hossam Khattab, Marketing Director, Binzagr Unilever.
Unilever KSA’s existing campaign momentum was accelerated by its Global Handwashing Day outreach programme. Unilever KSA team members visited children across schools in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam. Campuses visited included the well-known Dar Al Rowad typical School in Jeddah.
“We are constantly taking initiatives to improve health and wellbeing for Saudi Arabia’s population, and we find that creating good habits early on is an effective method of addressing health concerns. Even simple actions like handwashing can have a tremendous impact on overall health,” added Khattab.
The Lifebuoy Arabia brand of soaps and hygiene products served as a vehicle to demonstrate the effectiveness of handwashing when done properly and with high quality products.
“Lifebuoy products have been re-launched to take advantage of an improved innovative formula that offers up to 10 times the protection of normal soap. Lifebuoy is the world’s only line of soap products approved by the Royal Society of Public Health in London. Through events like the Global Handwashing Day, Lifebuoy is committed to making a tangible difference across Saudi Arabia and the world in terms of improving lives through its health and hygiene programmes. These aims form core tenets of the Unilever MENA Sustainable Living Plan,” concluded Khattab.
Globally, Lifebuoy runs the world’s largest hygiene behaviour change programme that has already reached over 257 million people across 24 countries since 2010. In 2015 only, the brand aims to reach 100 million. As part of Lifebuoy’s commitment to decreasing child mortality and to the Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan, the brand is aiming to change the handwashing behaviour of one billion people by 2020.
On the international stage, Unilever has taken a strong stand on child mortality through initiatives including its Global Handwashing Day. Grouped under the message of “Help a child reach 5,” Unilever is raising awareness of the fact that 40% of the 180,000 under-five deaths occurring every day happen within the first 28 days of a newborn’s life – where the child is particularly vulnerable to infection. Diarrhoea alone accounts for 3,000 children dying before their fifth birthday.
Simple hygiene procedures, such as washing hands with soap, can present an effective, cost effective way of preventing disease. Neonatal mortality rates have been shown to reduce as much as 41% when newborns are handled by birth attendants and mothers with careful handwashing habits.