Unilever East Africa is reaching out to 160 pregnant and new mothers in Migori County to empower them on the important habit of handwashing with soap as a cost-effective way to reduce preventable infections such as diarrhea and pneumonia.
The programme, aims to reach out to mothers and her extended family via a community focused approach and raising awareness of lifesaving habit within the mother and child’s ecosystem at this critical time period, just before and after the child is born, when the child is most susceptible to infections and mothers are most receptive.
In Kenya, more than 34,000 newborn babies die each year within their first month of life – a figure that translates to more than 90 deaths per day. In addition, 5000-7000 women die each year from giving life. Grave inequalities in maternal, newborn and child health outcomes persist between regions. For example; only 15 out of 47 counties account for 98.7% of all maternal death.
Unilever East Africa’s, CEO, Justin Apsey said that the company has partnered with AMREF and UNFPA to deliver high impact interventions such as hygiene, family planning and access to skilled care which is instrumental in preventing both women as well as newborns from losing their lives.
“At Unilever, our commitment is to change the handwashing behaviors of 12 million Kenyans by 2020 through high impact intervention hygiene education programmes. The simple act of handwashing with soap is one of the most cost-effective, yet often overlooked ways to save a child’s life and by leveraging the expertise and scale of our business, together with our partners, we can effect real change in the communities that we serve,” said Apsey.
The initiative is being implemented in Migori, a county with the some of the highest maternal mortality ratios and prevalence of diarhoea among young children in Kenya.
The programme compliments Kenya’s pledge to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG’s) and the Global Strategy for Women, Children and Adolescent Health. The initiative also supports Kenya’s Vision 2030 which in its social pillar seeks to develop a population that is healthy, productive and able to fully participate in and contribute to the development of other sectors of the economy.