Unilever’s Lifebuoy premieres film to launch pioneering health campaign

Unilever’s health soap, Lifebuoy, has launched the latest initiative in its quest to help reduce the deaths of two million children before their fifth birthday from preventable diseases such as diarrhoea and pneumonia.

Changing handwashing behaviour in India

Over the past ten years, Lifebuoy has taken its handwashing behaviour change programmes to millions of people across the world, and now it is aiming to change the handwashing behaviour of a whole village in central India, Thesgora, which has one of the highest rates of diarrhoea. This initiative supports Unilever’s goal to deliver on its commitment under its Sustainable Living Plan – to help more than one billion people take action to improve their health and well-being.

Using film to make the message personal

The launch of the campaign on the 27 February is being marked with a groundbreaking new three-minute film that provides a unique perspective on the individual tragedy of losing a child before their fifth birthday, and encourages people around the world to pledge their support - see external link for more.

Global Brand VP of Lifebuoy, Samir Singh, said: “Our goal is to change the handwashing behaviours of one billion people by 2015. We wanted to tell the world the Lifebuoy story in a deeply emotional way. Our brief was to translate the statistic of ‘two million children still die in the world before the age of five due to preventable infections like diarrhoea and pneumonia’ into something real, personal and powerful. And through this film, that’s just what’s been done.”

Cheap lifesaving solutions

Unilever CEO Paul Polman said: “The big issues the world is facing require new approaches and new partnerships. It is unacceptable that two million children die every year from infectious diseases when we have easy and cheap lifesaving solutions, such as handwashing with soap readily available.

Paul continues: “Responsible businesses must take a more active leadership role and this new initiative is an example of how Unilever is assuming such a role through one of its iconic brands. Lifebuoy is living proof that putting a social mission at the heart of a brand can both deliver on the mission itself and deliver sustainable growth.”

The Lifebuoy programme

Lifebuoy’s programme in Thesgora will target school children, new mothers, neo-natal nurses and community groups, encouraging the practice of handwashing with soap at key occasions: before eating, after using the toilet and when washing. The programme aims to have a significant impact on the health of the community and consequently the futures of the children in the village, resulting in more children reaching their fifth birthday.

The campaign also aims to contribute to Millennium Development Goal 4 - to reduce the mortality of children under five by two-thirds by 2015. Handwashing with soap is one of the most effective and low cost ways to prevent diseases like pneumonia and diarrhoea, which stop 2.1 million children every year reaching their fifth birthday. Put simply, this modest but lifesaving act could help a lot more children reach the age of five.

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