Changing hygiene habits for better health

We are using our expertise in behavioural change to improve handwashing and oral hygiene.

Washing hands & brushing teeth - simple actions can save lives

Around 1,600 children under five die each day from diarrhoea caused by the inter-related issues of poor sanitation, hygiene and unsafe water. Studies show that washing hands with soap is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent disease. A Lifebuoy clinical trial in 2007-2008 in India showed that increasing handwashing frequency led to a 25% reduction in diarrhoeal disease, a 15% reduction in acute respiratory infections and a 46% reduction in eye infections. Use of soap increased up to tenfold among those who received Lifebuoy’s handwashing behaviour-change programme.1

Lifebuoy has developed a clear ‘social mission’ – to reduce diarrhoeal disease by changing the handwashing behaviour of 1 billion people. Over 2010-2015, we have reached 337 million people with our handwashing message. Ours is the largest handwashing behavioural change programme in the world.

The consequences of poor oral hygiene can also lead to life-threatening illnesses, yet it is often not prioritised by individuals or public health authorities. Tooth decay affects nearly all adults and 60–90% of children worldwide. Toothache is the number one reason for absenteeism from schools in many countries. Yet this is largely preventable. Clinical data shows that twice-daily toothbrushing with fluoride toothpaste can reduce tooth decay by up to 50% in children, compared with only brushing once.

We estimate that more than 1 billion people do not use fluoride toothpaste, and over 3 billion do not brush their teeth twice a day. There is a clear opportunity for our business to make an impact on health, and at the same time grow our business. Our market-leading Signal brand drives our communications to raise awareness and improve toothbrushing habits. Signal is also known as Pepsodent (Asia & Latin America), Mentadent (Italy), Zhong Hua (China), Aim (Greece), and P/S (Vietnam).

1 In 2013, the findings of this study were published in the journal of Tropical Medicine & International Health.

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