The Story of Saving Lives | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 30, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 30, 2015

AN APPLE A DAY

The Story of Saving Lives

With their age old slogan 'Lifebuoy Jekhane Shasthho Shekhane,' Lifebuoy has indeed been fighting the good fight in Bangladesh. Since 1964, the brand has been with its consumers through and through, providing supreme healthcare and protection. Meeting the needs of 160 million Bangladeshis is no walk in the park, but Lifebuoy has undertaken this challenge for the long haul. Alongside producing healthcare consumer goods, it also strives to instil hygiene habits for a healthy life. 

In 1894, Victorian England was up against epidemics such as typhoid, smallpox, cholera and diphtheria. It was William Lever, one of the founding members of Unilever who launched Lifebuoy with the hopes of improving hygiene. Not only did the brand provide healthcare products, but also enforced hygienic habits among people through campaigns, for which it still remains one of the leading health soaps in the world. Having said that, its involvement with social welfare speaks volumes of the hygiene habits Lifebuoy has been trying to install within the country and beyond.

Every year, 1.7 million children, globally, die before the age of 5 from life threatening diseases such as diarrhoea and pneumonia. But with a simple habit of hand washing with soaps, this comes down to a minimum. Lifebuoy initiated 'Help a Child Reach 5' programme aiming to reduce the number of deaths with this simple yet effective habit. This one act can save lives for the greater good, and allow a child to experience the joys of childhood to the fullest. Lifebuoy plans to not only create greater awareness but also bring about sustained changes in hand washing behaviours, to curb diarrhoea and child mortality. In light of the situation, Lifebuoy focuses to make a difference among 1 billion people through their hand washing programs by 2020. 

That's not all; Lifebuoy takes social welfare to the next level with the largest school hygiene programme in Bangladesh. “School of 5” ropes in Lifebuoy's decades of experience, running hand washing campaigns around the world. This programme uses an effective strategy that helps achieve sustained behavioural change. 

Through this, Lifebuoy stresses on the importance of washing hands with soap during the five key occasions: after going to the toilet, before breakfast, lunch and dinner, and while bathing. With health and hygiene in mind, this programme runs over a period of 21 days, consisting of 4 visits. To sweeten the pot, it uses a unique combination of activities such as comics, puzzles, stories and games to teach children about the importance of washing hands. The programme also recruits teachers and parents as strong driving agents for change during community contact. It becomes even more effective once teachers and parents work together for the same cause and creates a favourable eco-system for behavioural change to take place. Starting in 2011, the programme has reached an incredible number of 29.8 million people, covering 20% of all primary schools in Bangladesh with the lifesaving message of washing hands with soaps.

Alongside their health campaigns, Lifebuoy has been supporting “Lifebuoy Friendship Hospital.” Since 2001, this floating hospital provides free healthcare in the char and riverbank based population clusters in northern Bangladesh that are isolated from mainstream habitation. The team of ‘saviours’ is a mix of local and European visiting doctors specialised in three units- eye, dental and general treatment. This floating hospital is the true symbol of a Lifebuoy. 

But this battle for health awareness does not stop with these two initiatives. The brand continues to go all out with Global Hand Washing Day Celebration. This is an annual awareness day celebrated in over 100 countries worldwide on October 15, co-founded by Unilever along with other public and private partners in 2008.Through this occasion, Lifebuoy wants to educate and inform everyone about healthy hygiene habits. Lifebuoy, in Bangladesh, also celebrates “Global Hand Washing Day” every year to raise awareness on washing hands with soap. The implementation of the programme has moved millions and it's safe to say that all of this came to being with the constant dedication from Lifebuoy. 

The brand continues to impart its mission and goal among enthusiastic individuals. “Lifebuoy Lifesaver Volunteer Programme” is the latest initiative taken by Lifebuoy Bangladesh. It has been launched on the occasion of Global Hand Washing Day this year. This platform allows participants to join Lifebuoy's 'Help a Child Reach 5' campaign by volunteering in Lifebuoy's 'School of 5' programme. Citizens of Bangladesh aged over 18 can easily register to volunteer in this programme by logging on at www.lifebuoylifesaversbd.com or giving a missed call to 09-613-111-111. All selected volunteers will undergo training and attend an orientation session before they commence the programme. They then spend just one hour a week over a four-week period teaching a group of children how to wash their hands. Through this, volunteers can help to save lives just by dedicating an hour every week. 

Since its inception, Lifebuoy has braved countless programs and become more than just soap. This life-saving brand not only prevents diseases but is headstrong about the behavioural change programs it has implemented around the world. Its vision is one which has informed and educated people about the need for hygiene in daily life practices; and it all starts with one simple act of washing hands. Through Lifebuoy one can learn that you don't have to move mountains to make a difference among billions. It all starts with you!

Courtesy: Unilever

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