Reckitt Benckiser, RB, the world’s leading consumer health and hygiene Company took its Corporate Social Responsibility, CRS to a new height on Tuesday, with the announcement of a multi-billion partnership with federal government to fight the scourge of diarrhea among Nigerian children.
This fact was revealed when officials of the company paid a courtesy visit to the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo where they presented the ‘Save a Child a Minute’ 7.2 Billion Naira program to him.
The RB delegation included- Rahul Murgai, Managing Director, RB West Africa; Andrew Fleming, Deputy Head of Political Section, British High Commissioner and Patty O’ Hayer, RB Global Head of External Communications & Affairs.
Others areChief Olu Falomo, Chairman RB Nigeria; Oguzhan Silivrili, Marketing Director RB West Africa and Alasdair Peach, Chief Financial Officer RB West Africa; Kwame S. Boate, Ph D, Deputy Country Director, Save the Children and Dr. David Olayemi, Director of Advocacy and Media, Save the Children.
According to the United Nations Children Education Fund, UNICEF, the diarrhea prevalence rate in Nigeria is 18.8% and is one of the worst in sub-Sahara Africa and above the average of 16%. Diarrhea, it said, accounts for over 16% of child deaths in Nigeria and an estimated 150,000 deaths mainly amongst children under five occur annually due to this disease mainly caused by poor sanitation and hygiene practices.It is also estimated that diarrhea kills about 194,000 children under five every year in Nigeria, as respiratory infections kill another 240,000.
The global body observed that trends in the past five years allow for cautious optimism that significant progress will be made in reducing the number of people globally, who practice open defecation.
Globally, UNICEF is supporting 50 countries including Nigeria to implement Community Approaches to Total Sanitation (CATS) such as Community Led Total Sanitation. This is aimed at empowering communities to identify their sanitation challenges and take necessary actions to end open defecation.
However, Rahul Murgai, the Managing Director, RB West Africa statedthat RB’s global vision is “to provide our consumers with innovative solutions for healthier lives and happier homes.”
He disclosed that RB has been operating in Nigeria for over 50 years and remains one of the key priority markets for continued focus and investment. Accordingly, he maintained that RB has been working to create a culture of health and hygiene and is present in country with its portfolio of trusted brands like Dettol, Nurofen, Strepsils, Gaviscon, Durex, Harpic, Mortein, and Air Wick.
He further stated that RB is not looking at Nigerian opportunity over short term but see a longer term potential and that Nigeria will remain the epicenter for African growth and plays an important strategic role in serving and developing other key markets in West Africa.
“With Dettol, a trusted name among Nigerian households and mothers, we have been actively partnering with Ministry of Health, Nigerian Medical Association, Save The Children and other NGOs to create scaled awareness around good health and hygiene. As part of our ongoing commitment, we have already reached 5 million mothers and 3.9 million school children over last 6 years to improve maternal health and reduced infant mortality in line with Nigeria commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals.
“However, these interventions though in right direction, need much greater participation and scale from like-minded corporates, NGOs and government if we were to build a truly healthier and prosperous nation.
The Water and Sanitation Program Research reports that Nigeria loses N455bln annually, to poor sanitation and hygiene. This increases the risk of disease and malnutrition making it an urgent priority for all the stakeholders and society. We believe that the implementation of National Health Act, Rota-Virus and Wash Policy will all contribute to making Nigeria healthier, Murgai said.
The impact, according to the RB boss, is startling in human terms- as ‘one child dies every minute’ under the age of 5 from preventable diseases, specifically diarrhea.
“ Accordingly, we are announcing the ground breaking ‘Save a Child a Minute’ program in partnership with Save The Children and Lagos State government being piloted in Shomolu LGA where we are working to reduce prevalence and incidence of diarrhea by 50% and mortality by 80%.
“What makes the program ground-breaking is that for the first time, a holistic approach on the WHO Seven (7) point plan is being implemented in Africa. The knowledge is being shared with the Federal government in anticipation of creating a national movement to fast scale the program,” Murgai added.
Speaking specifically on Dettol’s commitment to increase awareness around the importance of adopting healthy hand washing habits among children, Murgai revealed that the Dettol School Hygiene Programme (SHP) which was launched in 2009 has reached more than 3.9 million children since inception with various education materials and school visits to enlighten the pupils on the importance of personal hygiene
“Every year Dettol reaches over 1million new moms in hospitals and 1million school children through hand washing programmes in schools to reduce infant deaths and improve maternal health through its Dettol grassroots hygiene programmes”, he said.
Not a few analysts agree that these joint interventions have become very critical as the Water and Sanitation Programme Research reports that Nigeria Loses N455bln annually which is 1.3% of the Nigeria’s GDP to poor sanitation and hygiene which increases the risk of disease and malnutrition.
, R-L , 1 , Vice President Osinbajo (right) welcomes the Managing Director Reckitt Benckiser(RB) West Africa , Rahul Murgai and the Chairman of the Company, Chief OluFalomo to the Presidential Villa, Abuja ..yesterday (19-01-2016)