The HBCC was designed to reach populations and communities whose living conditions increased their susceptibility to contracting Covid-19 and other infectious disease. NGO and UN partners were selected based on their experience and expertise in delivering programmes to vulnerable communities, such as refugees
Working with partners such as the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has allowed the HBCC to establish specialist programmes that can effectively support people living through some of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, including in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. Over 30 million Unilever hygiene products have been donated to UNHCR for direct distribution to refugee communities.
The power of public–private collaboration
Of course, the huge scope and the quick deployment of the HBCC programme would not have been possible without the close collaboration of the public and private sectors. Unilever’s partnership with the FCDO, overseen by academic experts in behaviour change and WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), represents the UK’s largest public–private partnership established to help slow the spread of the virus in vulnerable countries.
“Public–private partnership has been critical, allowing us to leverage the influence, expertise and networks of both government and business, and our strong network of NGO and UN partners, at home and overseas. We’re pleased to work together with partners to implement initiatives to address the pandemic at scale,” says Rebecca Marmot, Unilever’s Chief Sustainability Officer.
Hygiene remains critical in months to come
Experts agree that hygiene, alongside free and universal vaccination programmes, will continue to be of fundamental importance in the long-term response to Covid-19. Continued focus on hygiene is especially important where vaccines are not yet available. For countries that are cautiously eyeing post-pandemic life, maintaining focus on hygiene will be vital in helping people continue to live happy, healthy lives.
We know that there are large inequalities in access to hygiene and sanitation. Four in ten people do not have access to soap a.nd water in their homes. It is our hope that one silver lining from this crisis may be recognition at a much greater scale of the vital role hygiene plays in health.