Saudi Ministry of Health engage children on Global Handwashing Day

Jeddah - Unilever, one of the world’s leading FMCG companies celebrated Global Handwashing Day – which the company helped co-found in 2008 through its Lifebuoy brand - by visiting 10 schools to educate more than (2800) children about the importance of washing hands in Jeddah. The initiative was held in collaboration with the Saudi Ministry of Health and the Saudi Environment Society (SENS).

3.5 million Child deaths from diarrhoea & pneumonia every year preventable via handwashing with soap.

On October 15th, Unilever visited five primary girls’ schools, and an equal number of boys’ schools to inculcate the habit of handwashing so as to ward off infectious diseases. The delegation specifically targeted early elementary students in primary schools, with the aim of helping young children develop life-saving hygiene habits early in life.

“Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing with soap, are effective and inexpensive ways to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases that are particularly deadly to children under five. Diarrhoea and pneumonia account for almost 3.5 million child deaths every year – and this can be prevented through behavioural changes such as regularly washing hands with soap,” said Khaled Fayed, Managing Director of Unilever KSA.

Each school visit included a short lecture on personal hygiene by the Ministry of Health as part of “Your Hygiene is Your Health” program. Unilever representatives also demonstrated proper, effective handwashing techniques using portable Lifebuoy units. Finally, memory recall was facilitated through entertaining hygiene-related activities and games for the children.

Dr. Muhannad Al-Zahrani, Community Awareness Programs Administrator - Public Health Awareness Management, Ministry of Health said, “We want to inspire every individual to take small everyday actions like handwashing with soap that can add up to a big difference for public health. Everyone can help spread awareness by telling friends and family about the importance of regularly washing their hands with soap. It’s an important, lifesaving habit.”

KSA is part of a global initiative

Ageel Angawi, VP Marketing - Home Care, Unilever MENA said, “Unilever’s school outreach programme in KSA is part of a global initiative to counter the spread of easily preventable infectious diseases through simple hygiene measures that become habit. This is why Unilever is reaching out to young children and getting them to mainstream handwashing with soap so that positive behaviour sets in early,”

This educational program is part of Unilever Sustainable Living Plan which was launched in 2010. The plan aims to help more than a billion people globally improve their health and well-being by 2020 through key actions that include regular Handwashing to prevent the transmission of controllable infectious diseases. Unilever’s Lifebuoy has already reached 183 million people since 2010 with its Handwashing behaviour programmes.

Globally, the statistics are stark. 40 percent of under-5 deaths occur in the first 28 days of life due to diarrhoea and pneumonia – that’s nearly 3 million babies. 18,000 children die every single day without seeing their fifth birthday, and Unilever is determined to address this issue by mainlining simple behavioural changes that lead to better hygiene worldwide. “In KSA, we are delighted to be collaborating with public sector bodies and reaching out to receptive, young audiences to spread awareness that improves health and can save lives,” added Angawi.

Ali Mohammed Hatami, Saudi Environment Society, said, “These initiatives are essential to spreading awareness about the importance of handwashing. These small behaviours can help people and mainly children avoid diseases that can cause deaths in many cases. This is not our first collaboration with Unilever as we both share the feeling of care and responsibility towards our society, and are always eager to play our part in sending the health messages to the audience.

In the past few months, we have partnered with Unilever to spread awareness to more than a million people, educating them about how handwashing can help protect them from Mers-CoV. Today we continue this successful partnership as we target schools and children with one goal in our minds, creating a difference in their everyday life to guarantee their health and wellbeing,”

Millennium Development Goal

In South Asia and Africa, Unilever is working to support the Millennium Development Goal of reducing child mortality by two thirds by 2015. The company has joined forces with USAID to mainstream handwashing with soap amongst mothers to combat child mortality.

About Unilever

Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of fast moving consumer goods. More than 2 billion consumers worldwide use Unilever products on any given day, buying 170 billion units of our product range. More than 173 000 people work for Unilever all over the world. In 2013 Unilever generated annual sales of €49.8 billion.

Our portfolio includes foods, ice cream and beverages, personal care and household care products. Unilever has more than 400 brands, 15 of which generate sales in excess of €1 billion a year. Unilever is Number 1 and 2 in more than 80% of the business.

Unilever is aiming to double in size whilst reducing its environmental impact, working to create a better future everyday by helping people to feel good, look good and get more out of life with its brands and services. For more information about Unilever and its brands, please visit

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