The importance of safe hand hygiene in healthcare support was the focal point for Dettol and the Nelson Mandela Foundation this International Mandela Day as they took the ‘Mzansi Protect’ hygiene education campaign to one of Johannesburg’s most remote and isolated communities, Orange Farm, as part of their ongoing collaborative efforts to ensure access to sustainable sanitation and (safe hand) hygiene promotion for all.
Officials from the two companies visited Lusemanzi Day Care Centre on the day to educate the children about the importance of effective hand hygiene as the cornerstone of infection control. They demonstrated, in with WHO guidelines, the 11 steps to handwashing through a super fun and easy song and dance routine created in-house by Dettol.
“Our goal as a business is not only to give back but to educate the children about the importance of good hygiene,” said Masibonge Mkhize, Reckitt head of corporate, external affair, adding: “We’ve been fortunate for the last couple of years, we’ve managed to entrench the importance of effective hand hygiene to safeguard one’s good health. We’ve collaborated with the Mandela Foundation to be able to reach early child development centres across South Africa, and today we’re in Orange Farm in light of this to honour the International Nelson Mandela Day.”
Explaining why they chose Orange Farm, she said that was informed by “the realisation that there’s huge gap for hand hygiene education in underserved communities more susceptible to infections and illnesses caused by poor hygiene.
“Orange Farm is one of the communities in the south of Johannesburg that we felt there’s a huge gap, not only from an educational perspective, but for being able to reach the cornerstones – and beyond – that we are aiming for. It’s only natural for us to go to your Sowetos where Tata Nelson Mandela is from, or your Alexandras which is close to Sandton … too close to comfort. But today we felt we need to step outside of our jurisdiction into an area where we wouldn’t only be challenged, but also feel and see the essence of Ubuntu of being in communities that we serve.”
The visit, she added, forms part of Dettol’s ongoing ‘Hygiene Quest Schools Program’, which aim is to reach 1 million learners annually, with focus given to Early Childhood Development Centres and Special Needs Schools.
It comes just months after the launch, late 2022, of Dettol’s Mzansi Protect, an actionable initiative aimed at reducing the burden of diarrhoea in South Africa by 50% by 2027.
“Good health and hygiene is part of our DNA as we believe that access to hygiene should be a right of every individual, therefore we take our brands and bring them to that space,” said Mkhize. “That is why a brand like Dettol should not only be in our homes, but we should try and educate children that hygiene can stop the spread of germs. Also through multiples outbreaks that are happening now like cholera and diarrhoea, we want to educate and show the masses that through a basic thing like proper everyday hand washing, lives can be saved.”
On some of the practical solutions Dettol (Reckitt SA) has brought through the program, she said: “We introduced and taught the Grade R learners an exciting hygiene song which would serve as a good reminder whenever they need do the right thing (wash their hands). We also provide the material they need for educational purposes. We’ve got storybooks that are given to the children to learn more about hand hygiene outside of the program, which they get to take home too, proving that learning isn’t only in a classroom, but can be taken back to their homes, further entrenching the importance of making good hygiene for all a reality.”
Continuing Madiba’s legacy; advancing early childhood development
Sumaya Hendricks, head of dialogue and advocacy team at the Nelson Mandela Foundation, explains why this initiative is important in ensuring that Madiba’s selfless legacy continues.
“We’re here today to continue the work that we do in advancing early childhood development in South Africa. It takes all of us as society to achieve that, and what we really need in that regard is partnerships; so Reckitt (Dettol) being here today demonstrates their commitment to this important course, which is a key area of focus not only for the Nelson Mandela Foundation, wherein as an organisation, we recognise that the early days of a child are the most important. And Madiba as you would know, was himself passionate about children.”
She added: “The message of Mandela Day is that it really is in your hands, and you can make a difference wherever you are. We are also here to acknowledge the important work that practitioners and corporates in early child development do to make everyday a Mandela Day.”