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Safeguard and Save the Children to Build Sanitation Facilities in 100 Schools in Pakistan in 100 Days

Karachi, October 20, 2009: Procter & Gamble's Safeguard brand and Save the Children announced their new partnership to reach 100 primary schools in Pakistan through a school health and hygiene project. The project will benefit 40,000 school age children in Quetta, Karachi and Lahore with improved sanitation facilities and health and hygiene education.

According to UNICEF Pakistan, "about 80% of all major diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, hepatitis are due to unsafe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene." The incidence of disease is greater in developing countries such as Pakistan, where a large fraction of the population is living in extreme conditions of poverty, with an improper sewage disposal system and inadequate sanitation facilities in public places including hospitals, health centers and schools and unavailability of clean water. According to the Pakistan Federal Bureau of Statistics, 30% of the Pakistani population has no access to toilets. Further, the Federal Minister of Environment, Hameedullah Jan Afridi, states that "inadequate provision of pure drinking water and sanitation facilities in schools is one of the contributing factors to low enrolment and the high drop out rates of girls from schools". This is critically important as studies have demonstrated that in schools without proper handwashing facilities, children are 13 times more likely to suffer from diarrhea. WHO states that the cheapest and most effective measure against common illnesses is the simple act of handwashing with soap.

Through this partnership, Safeguard and Save the Children aim to address the incidence of common illnesses arising from poor sanitation facilities in school children, and empower Pakistani children to adopt healthy habits through health education and improved access to handwashing, toilet and water supply facilities. The overall aim is to enable children and their families to adopt better health and hygiene habits in the long-term.

Safeguard appeals to Pakistani mothers to help improve the lives of less affluent children. Every bar of Safeguard bought from October 2009 to March 2010 will contribute towards building handwashing, toilet and water supply facilities in Pakistani schools where children do not have access today.

Speaking at the launch press conference, Chief Guest, Minister of Health, Sindh, Dr. Sagheer Ahmed stated, "Today, we are very proud that the private sector has stepped up and extended their full support to the critical issue of sanitation and hygiene, which will greatly help the cause of improving the health of Pakistan. According to estimates, water, sanitation and hygiene related diseases cost Pakistan's economy about Rs 112 billion per year and over Rs 300 million a day in terms of health cost and lost earnings. Through this partnership, Safeguard and Save the Children have marked the critical importance of adopting healthy and hygienic habits through enabling access to improved sanitation facilities. We would like to thank the Safeguard and Save the Children teams for leading this initiative that has the potential to save millions of Pakistani lives."

Mr. Qaisar Shareef, Country Manager P&G Pakistan, stated at the event, "P&G Pakistan is proud to have a rich history of helping children in need in Pakistan live, learn, and thrive: and the Safeguard partnership with Save the Children marks a critical step towards improving key infrastructure in Pakistan, and thereby positively impacting thousands of children and their families. We are honored to have joined hands with one of the biggest global international development organizations, Save the Children, to build these facilities across Pakistan."

"We hope that the partnership between Save the Children and Safeguard will improve the health of thousands of students and enable them to stay in school," said Country Director of Save the Children Pakistan. "Through Save the Children's school health and nutrition program, we are working closely with parents, teachers and students to change hygiene habits and teach the importance of regular handwashing."

Mubashara Khalid, the Brand Manager for Safeguard in Pakistan, also stated at the event: "Every day, 670,000 children miss school due to illnesses. According to the Karachi Soap Health Study (2002) led by the Center for Disease Control (USA), HOPE and P&G, regular handwashing with soap can reduce the incidence of diarrhea and common illnesses by up to 50 percent. The Safeguard-Save The Children partnership represents Safeguard's promise of championing the cause of a healthy Pakistan by fostering a culture of handwashing with soap by providing schoolchildren with critical handwashing and sanitation facilities and health education. We hope to achieve long-term sustained improvement in the health and hygiene habits of the children and their families who are touched through this initiative. We will be building these facilities this year, and are committed to provide sustainable maintenance to these facilities for the years to come."

Safeguard has empowered over 6 million children in more than 17,000 Pakistani schools through Sehat-o-Safai, the largest school health and hygiene awareness campaign in the country. To reinforce its commitment to health and hygiene, Safeguard is making this sustainable long term investment to improve the lives of Pakistani children and to instill the message of the importance of handwashing with soap. The Safeguard team will be educating 40,000 children through this partnership, and about 1.5 million children overall through the Sehat-o-Safai program this year.

Save the Children is the leading independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. Save the Children USA is a member of the International Save the Children Alliance, a global network of 29 independent Save the Children organizations working to ensure the well-being and protection of children in more than 120 countries.
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