Unilever partners with Amref Health Africa in the fight against cholera

As Kenya continues to battle the cholera outbreak that has affected 16 counties so far, Unilever East Africa and Amref Health Africa have joined forces to boost government efforts in stopping the spread of the disease.

The cholera response will be the first activity under a one-year extendable partnership outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding that was signed this morning by Dr Githinji Gitahi, Amref Health Africa’s CEO, and Marc Engel, Unilever’s CEO for East Africa and Emerging Markets.

Dr Gitahi noted that since the current outbreak was reported last December, close to 100 people had died and almost 5,000 had been affected.

“This is sad and unacceptable because cholera is a preventable illness,” he said.

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He noted that informal settlements had sustained the highest casualties due to low access to clean water as well as poor sanitation, and while the central and county governments were working hard to contain the spread of the disease, more needed to be done.

The partnership with Unilever, said Dr Gitahi, would increase awareness across the country about sanitation and hygiene, targeting school children and the general community, and encouraging long-term behavioural change.

Mr Engel said the partnership would help Unilever achieve its goals under the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, particularly in the areas of maternal health, nutrition, research and advocacy and water and sanitation, which are relevant for the cholera response.

Under the partnership Unilever will help train teachers and community health volunteers in the communities and schools in hardest hit areas, besides providing Geisha Germiguard soap and Pureit water purifiers as a way of promoting healthy living and hygiene. Over 6,000 schoolgoing children, 100 households and 400 adults will be reached. Unilever employees will also give their time by joining Amref Health Africa staff on the ground to demonstrate and encourage proper hand washing behaviour in communities.

Since December 26, 2014, cholera has affected 16 counties: Nairobi, Migori, Homa Bay, Bomet, Mombasa, Nakuru, Muranga, Kirinyaga, Baringo, Kiambu, Embu, Machakos, Narok, Kilifi, Trans Nzoia and Turkana. Out of these, 14 still have active outbreaks.