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Safeguard Launches ‘Sehat-o–Safai’ School Program

Karachi, 15th September, 2009: Safeguard recently announced the launch of its Sehat-o–Safai School Program for school year 2009/2010. This program has already empowered more than 5 million children in over 14000 schools across Pakistan over the last 5 years, with the critical message of health and hygiene, and education on the proper steps of handwashing with soap.

The program has its roots in the Karachi Soap Health Study (2002) led by the Center for Disease Control, HOPE and Procter & Gamble. In Pakistan, every year 250,000 children die from diarrhea and every day, 670,000 children miss school due to illnesses. The study showed that regular hand washing with soap can reduce the incidence of diarrhea by up to 50 percent.

Since its launch in Pakistan in 1995, Safeguard has set new standards for defining "health & hygiene" in the country. It has been the brand’s vision to empower and enable masses to adopt healthy and hygienic practices through a sustained effort to curb absenteeism in schools and reduce the incidence of common illnesses that can be easily preventable by inculcating the habit of handwashing with soap. Safeguard launched the ‘Sehat-o–Safai’ School Program in 2004 – which is now Pakistan’s largest corporate sector school health and hygiene awareness program and is being carried out in collaboration with the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), the largest body of doctors across Pakistan, and the Infectious Diseases Society of Pakistan (IDSP).

A study on the “Effects of School-Based Handwashing Promotion on Students and Communities in the Developing World” was undertaken by the Center for Disease Control in 2008 and the study proved that, after students were educated by the Safeguard Sehat-o-Safai School Program, not only did the absence of students in schools decreases due to the reduction in the incidence of hand-transmissible diseases such as fever and gastroenteritis, but that illness in family members also declines. In fact, the days that parents missed work due to illnesses also dropped significantly in the households where the children were educated by Safeguard.

The objective of the Sehat-o-Safai program is to spread and reinforce health and hygiene messages among children across Pakistan in a memorable and engaging manner. A typical Sehat-o-Safai day consists of Safeguard’s team of qualified doctors visiting schools, where they conduct hygiene tutorial sessions. Children are taught about germs and how to wash their hands properly with soap, through the unique animated character of Commander Safeguard. Each student is then given take-home educational material so that they can continue to learn and monitor their hygiene habits with their families.

To ensure that health and hygiene learning continues long after the Safeguard team has completed its health tutorial and to help schools institutionalize this learning, the Safeguard team celebrates “Health Days” in thousands of these schools, by holding drama competitions, debates, singing competitions, art galleries, health awareness walks, and community cleanliness drives – all organized around the theme of health and hygiene.

Elaborating further on the Sehat-o-Safai program, Mubashara Khalid, Brand Manager Safeguard said, “It has always been our aim to emphasize the benefits of handwashing with soap. Sehat-o-Safai program empowers Pakistanis with the awareness that regular handwashing with soap is an effective and inexpensive way of preventing the spread of 5 most common infectious diseases. Every day in Pakistan, large numbers of children miss school due to common illnesses and regular handwashing with soap can help reduce this so that the journey towards collective progress of our children continues”.
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