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As part of a larger initiative to reduce the incidence of diarrhea, a pilot project being conducted in the village of Dhori, Sargodha has yielded encouraging results. The pilot, “Sehatmand Gharanay, Khushhal Pakistan”, was conducted by Reckitt Benckiser (RB) in collaboration with Plan International, an NGO that already has several Water, Sanitation and Hygiene initiatives across Punjab and many others all over the country. What makes the project unique is the implementation of an innovative behavior change model which has demonstrated accelerated results. In order to make the project sustainable, it has also introduced an inclusive business model that empowers women. Women, referred to as hygienists, from within the local community are empowered to become messengers of health and hygiene to households within the village. They carry a basket of products which is prepared in partnership with other private companies and includes excellent quality products at highly subsidized rates. The purpose of this campaign is to improve homes and lives across Pakistan through positive behavior change and to deliver a sustainable community engagement model by empowering women to take the lead in protecting their family health.
Diarrhea is the second leading cause of death from a preventable disease for children under 5 years of age. Pakistani children suffer from 25 million cases of diarrhea every year, with 53,300 child deaths due to diarrhea related causes annually. During her visit to Pakistan to evaluate the progress of the pilot project Patricia O’Hayer, Global Head of External Communications and Affairs RB stated “RB’s commitment to Pakistan involves initiating and sustaining such projects that can improve health and hygiene within the country. With this project RB aims to reduce the incidence of diarrhoea, particularly among children, and prevent child deaths due to diseases such as diarrhoea.”
RB Pakistan’s Chief Executive, Shahzeb Mahmood, emphasized the need to improve public health and hygiene by introducing good sanitary practices in each home. He further stated, “The phrase charity begins at home applies above all to ensuring adoption of a hygienic lifestyle by all citizens. This is largely missing in low-income households.This is a leading cause of diseases such as diarrhoea which further results in high infant mortality. This campaign has been launched to bring about sustainable behaviour change through education and direct community involvement in improving health, hygiene and sanitation practices of these low-income households.”