The UK government and the Anglo-Dutch multinational corporation Unilever are jointly funding a programme to help counter the spread of Covid-19 in poor countries. The programme will receive up to £50-million from each (for a total of up to £100-million).
The intent is to make hygiene products more readily available to poor people in developing countries, as well as making them more aware of the pandemic and encouraging them to change their behaviours. The programme will provide more than 20-million hygiene products to poor people worldwide, including those with little or no access to sanitation.
It will support anti-Covid-19 programmes being implemented by British and international nongovernmental organisations, by both expanding access to hygiene products and supporting a mass public information campaign on the importance of washing hands. It is hoped that the programme will reach as many as a billion people around the world.
The joint initiative will make use of inputs from experts, including from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, to make certain that it is focused on where it can have the greatest effect. The information campaigns will be tailored to the communities targeted by the programme, to ensure their effectiveness, and will be delivered by radio, TV, print media, and digital and social media, in countries in Africa and Asia, such as Bangladesh, Ghana and Kenya.
“Health experts have said washing your hands regularly and staying away from other people are the most effective ways to stop this virus from spreading and to save lives,” stressed UK International Development Secretary (that is, Cabinet Minister) Anne-Marie Trevelyan. “Many people in the poorest countries lack access to basic handwashing products, such as soap, or are not aware of the urgent need to change their behaviour. The UK government’s partnership with Unilever, will make a real difference, helping to protect both developing countries and the UK from infections.”
“[Our] Lifebuoy and Domestos [brands] have a proven track record of running hygiene awareness and education programmes successfully, and we hope that the work we will be able to drive with UK aid will help save lives that could otherwise be impacted by coronavirus,” said Unilever CEO Alan Jope. “As the world’s biggest soap company, we have a responsibility to help make soap and hygiene products more readily available, and to use our expertise to teach people to wash their hands effectively …”
Both the UK government and Unilever are separately running other anti-Covid-19 campaigns as well. As of March 26, the UK government had committed more than £500-million to fund international research into vaccines and tests against the disease, and to provide humanitarian support to developing countries.