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First Lady kicks off hand washing drive to reduce child deaths

 First Lady Margaret Kenyatta,Global CEO Unilever Paul Polman(left), Help A Child Reach 5 Campaign Ambassador Janet Mbugua(right) and 7year old Sherry hold up 'Help A Child Reach 5' placards during the official launch of the Help A Child Reach 5 campaign at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Nairobi.on 24th June 2016 PHOTO: DAVID GICHURU

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta yesterday lauded an initiative to reduce child deaths through a simple hand wash.

Mrs Kenyatta spoke in Nairobi during the launch of a hand washing campaign spearheaded by Unilever.

“Hand washing with soap is an incredibly effective way to keep a community healthy. If all mothers, health workers and caretakers adopt hand washing with soap during the critical neonatal period, we will improve the health of future generations of Kenyans by reducing preventable child deaths due to diseases like diarrhoea and pneumonia,” she said.

This comes as a big boost for Kenya’s bid to improve the health of children, as well as the First Lady’s Beyond Zero Campaign. Mrs Kenyatta said hand washing was one simple way of ensuring that communities stay healthy.

The campaign dubbed ‘Help a Child Reach 5’ targets to change the hand washing behaviour of some 12 million Kenyans by 2020.

Kenya is ranked among the top 50 countries with the highest deaths of children under the age of five.

Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu said there is a link between unsafe water, hygiene and child deaths. He called for the campaign to be scaled up for more children to live beyond five.

“The period during pregnancy and childbirth or in the neonatal period up to four weeks after delivery remains a big challenge to health systems countrywide,” said Dr Mailu.

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