The simple power
Every child should celebrate their fifth birthday, but every day thousands of young children and babies die from preventable diseases. We have the power to help save 600,000 kids every year, and one inspirational New Leader is showing us how.
Dr Myriam Sidibe is the Global Social Mission Director for Lifebuoy soap and for the last 14 years has dedicated herself to promoting handwashing across the world.
Myriam has worked with thousands of children to understand the most effective ways to get them to wash their hands with soap at key occasions throughout the day, like before eating and after the toilet.
Around the world, 4 out of 5 people don’t wash their hands after the toilet. This causes the spread of disease like diarrhoea and pneumonia, which are amongst the top two killers of children globally. Handwashing could prevent half the deaths from diarrhoea.
In Myriam’s powerful TED talk she says that handwashing programmes are vital to combatting child mortality.
“One of the most important myths to smash is the fact that most people believe hands are clean when they look clean.”
Myriam’s team use simple tools like a glow germ demo to show invisible disease-causing germs that handwashing with soap can remove. Lives are already being saved. In the last four years, in areas where with handwashing programmes, child mortality has declined.
Lifebuoy runs the largest behaviour change programme in the world and Myriam’s team has already reached 183 million people in over 16 countries. She believes they can reach one billion people by 2020.
Myriam’s work has been challenging, but like a true New Leader she has stuck by what she believes to spread the handwashing message around the world.
“When I joined Unilever, after completing a doctorate in public health, no one was systematically thinking about the business impact of handwashing as we do today. It has taken a lot of evidence building for everyone to realise that handwashing really can save lives.”
In 2008 Myriam co-founded Global Handwashing Day to recognise the need to raise handwashing awareness.
We have the formula, we now just need to spread the message far and wide that handwashing with soap will bring millions of children a brighter future.