Scrubbing Up Global Hygiene

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UNICEF Ethiopia
Regular hand washing with soap and water can reduce mortality from preventable diseases, such as diarrhea and pneumonia, by 50 percent.

Sometimes, powerfully innovative solutions are as simple as a bar of soap. Science has already proven that regular hand washing with soap and water can reduce mortality from preventable diseases, such as diarrhea and pneumonia, by almost 50 percent. Every year, these two diseases alone are responsible for the deaths of 1.7 million children under the age of 5. Washing ones’ hands with soap is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to minimize the spread of such deadly germs.

Dow and Lifebuoy soap from Unilever have capitalized on this simple hygiene solution to make soap even more effective. Through a research and development collaboration, the two companies have produced an enhanced germ protection soap. Using Dow Polyox Water-Soluble Polymers, the formulation takes advantage of controlled release technology to produce a longer lasting and better quality bar of soap. The result is a more affordable hygiene product.

The new technology has been used in products released in markets in India, Brazil, Thailand, and Indonesia, to a widely positive consumer response. Sales of these products are accompanied by a hand-washing campaign by Unilever targeting low-income market areas, with the goal of increasing a regular hand-washing culture.

Dow has proclaimed this new technology a “Breakthrough to World Challenges,” as part of a commitment to highlight innovative products and technologies with the potential to address significant global problems. In order to be recognized in this category, products are evaluated based on their potential impacts on human lives and on the environment. Unilever has also made commitments to social impact. The company’s Sustainable Living Plan outlines a goal of helping to improve the health and wellbeing of one billion people by 2020.

David Blanchard, Chief Research and Development Officer at Unilever, commented on the success of the company’s combined effort, saying, “Dow’s polymer technology is a great example of how collaboration can result in leading innovation and outstanding results.”