04 October 2012

Clean hands save lives

Health studies have shown that handwashing with soap is among the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent child deaths from infections such as pneumonia and diarrhoea.


In South Africa, childhood infections such as pneumonia and diarrhoea account for approximately 30% of deaths in children under the age of 5. Health studies  have shown that handwashing with soap is among the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent these deaths. In fact, it can decrease these illnesses, in children under 5, by up to 75%.

To this end, Dettol developed a unique portable water bag that makes handwashing easier, particularly in rural areas in South Africa where access to water is often limited.

“At Dettol it is our passion to improve lives by educating for better health for all. It fuels everything we do and it is backed by our long-standing expertise in disinfection and hygiene,” states Arvind Nevatia, Category Manager: Dettol South Africa. “That is why we are visiting 100 disadvantaged schools, in anticipation to Global Handwashing Day.

The objective: To provide hygiene education around handwashing with soap and to create conveniently located handwashing stations in schools and communities with our unique and hugely practical invention, the Dettol portable water bag. We are aiming to distribute at least 1500 of these bags to schools, which will affect 100 000 children, by Global Handwashing Day on October 15.”

Benefits of clean hands

“We know that most infections are preventable by cleaning hands at the right times and in the right way,*” explains Nevatia. “And the right way is to use soap and running water. Our challenge is to turn hand washing with soap from a good idea into automatic behaviour carried out in homes, schools, workplaces and communities.”

The Dettol portable water bag has a tap for easy opening and closing, preventing a waste of water as well as a net pouch holding a Dettol soap for quick and efficient cleaning.  A convenient hook at the top of the bag allows it to be hung from a tree, a fence or a wall.

 What makes the bag such an effective educational tool is that the instructions on the 6 steps to effective handwashing with soap are printed on the bag with clear illustrations ensuring that the educational message cuts across all languages and cultures.

Concludes Nevatia, “In South Africa millions of people only have communal access to clean water and the under-five mortality rate remains at least four times higher amongst the underprivileged*. One of Dettol’s main drivers is to change that picture.  Knowledge empowers communities and increased awareness of hygienic practises prevents illness.

We are determined to do what it takes to allow all South Africans to thrive in a healthy world. The education programme around our portable water bag is ongoing as we know that it can play a huge role in reducing illness and improving the lives of thousands of South Africans.”

(Press release, October 2012)

Read more:

Dettol helps fight childhood mortality rates



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Dr Suretha Kannenberg holds a degree in Medicine and a Masters in Dermatology from the University of Stellenbosch. She is employed as a consultant dermatologist by Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Academic Hospital, where she is involved in clinical duties and the training of medical students and dermatology residents. Her areas of interest and research include vitiligo, eczema and acne. She also performs limited private practice work in the Northern suburbs of Cape Town in general and cosmetic dermatology.

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