Unilever Malawi says it has so far reached out to over 239 000 Malawian children with its campaign aimed at promoting good health amongst the population through washing hands with soap.
The country director for Unilever Anele Zunga made the disclosure when the company donated Lifebuoy soap worth over K1.7 million to Kamuzu Central Hosptal as part of celebrations for this year's Global Hand Washing Day.
Global Hand Washing Day, now in its 11th year is a day co-founded by Unilever's health soap Lifebuoy, UNICEF and other non-governmental organizations in 2008 to raise awareness of hand washing with soap as a life saving habit.
As part of this year's celebrations, Unilever Malawi set out to reach out to over 200 children and patients at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH), one of the largest two referral hospitals in the country.
"Since 2014, we embarked on a Lifebuoy School of 5 project, whereby we have been reaching out to children aged 5 to 10 years, teaching them the importance of washing hands with soap before eating anything or after visiting the toilet.
"So far, we have reached out to 239,000 children in all the three regions of Malawi. As a global brand, Lifebuoy would like to reach out to 1 billion children on the globe by the year 2020," said Zunga.
KCH director Dr Jonathan Ngoma commended Unilever for the initiative, which he said was in line with the hospital's standards of promoting health and hygiene.
"We commend Unilever for chosing Kamuzu Central Hospital as a beneficiary for their project. What Unilever is doing is in line with the hospital's standards of promoting good health and hygiene.
"Apart from treating illnesses, we encourage our patients and staff to practice hygiene by washing their hands with soap," said Ngoma.
According to health experts, hand washing with soap after using the toilet and before eating or preparing food can reduce the risk of getting diarrhoeal diseases including cholera and typhoid by 45 percent and risk of acute respiratory infections (ARIs) like pneumonia by 23 percent.
Diarrhoea and pneumonia are the two leading killers of children, accounting for 29 percent of under five deaths globally, which translates to two million deaths each year.