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Dow Promotes the Importance of Handwashing

GinaMarie headshotWords by Gina-Marie Cheeseman
New Activism

Dow Chemical Co. clearly knows that handwashing is an important thing for children to do. The company recently announced its affiliation with the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap (PPPHW) to promote the practice that can prevent diseases.

This is not the first time the company has partnered with PPPHW. Dow previously worked with the organization during Global Handwashing Day, a campaign that raised awareness about the importance of handwashing with soap and water. PPPHW started Global Handwashing Day to reduce child mortality rates related to respiratory and diarrheal diseases.

Global Handwashing Day recognized a technology created by Dow that makes soaps last longer while feeling better on the skin called Dow Polyox Water-Soluble Polymers. The technology is used in Unilever’s Lifebuoy soap. In 2011, Unilever asked Dow to help a new formulation for its Lifebuoy soap brand. The two companies came up with a soap that people in developing countries could afford and would last longer than other soaps.

Dow’s partnerships with PPPHW and Unilever help the company meet its sustainability goals for 2015. One of those goals is achieving at least three breakthroughs by 2015 that will help solve world challenges in certain areas, including health.

“We believe in the power of the human element to change the world. Dow places a high value on listening to our communities and we strive not just to be a good neighbor, but an excellent global corporate citizen,” said Ralf Brinkmann, business president, Dow Consumer Care. “This initiative has the power to change and save lives, and we are proud to contribute to building better, stronger, and more sustainable communities in the places where we do business.”

Handwashing saves the lives of children

Every year, 760,000 children under five die due to diarrheal diseases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Diarrheal disease is the second leading cause of death in children. Over 80 percent of those deaths occur in in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Many children can be saved through proper hygiene. Handwashing in West and Central Africa has been found to reduce the rate of diarrheal disease by 48 to 59 percent, a report by Dow on its partnership with Unilever states.

The Dow report shows just how important handwashing is to the future of children. Handwashing with soap at certain critical times such as prior to meals or preparing food and after using the toilet can reduce the risk of diarrhea by 45 percent. Handwashing with soap can reduce the incidence of acute respiratory infections (ARIs), including pneumonia, by 23 percent. Handwashing not only helps children, but their mothers as well. Handwashing with soap by mothers and birth attendants was shown to reduce neonatal mortality in Nepal by 40 to 45 percent.

Image credit: UNICEF Ethiopia

Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshotGina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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