Policymakers and health practitioners have been urged to enforce access to hygiene facilities as a right and not a privilege.
The call was made by health, hygiene, and nutrition product makers Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC during a ceremony to handover Dettol soap and Jik to communities living with HIV in Uganda.
UNAIDS together with Reckitt Benckiser and Dembe Group on Wednesday handed over hygiene packs to the community of people living with HIV through the National Forum of People Living with HIV Networks in Uganda (NAFOPHANU), witnessed by the Uganda AIDS Commission.
Recognizing the fact that basic hygiene commodities are a vital tool to fight Coronavirus, the company in collaboration with UNAIDS provided the hygiene packs as part of efforts to reduce exposure to the impact of the virus among people living with HIV.
The packs consisted of a three-month supply of 180,000 105g Dettol soap and 30,000 bottles of 750ml Jik surface cleaner which will be distributed to 10,000 individuals.
A joint press statement, the donors noted that 1.4 million people are living with HIV in Uganda noting that there is a need to curtail the spread of Covid-19 among this group of people.
During the ceremony, Reckitt Benckiser launched the “Fight for Access Fund”, an initiative aimed at improving access to health, hygiene, and nutrition for all.
According to Patrick Mpaso, the company’s country manager for health, the fund is a demonstration of their effort to protect, heal, and nurture for a cleaner healthier world.
He revealed that the company had set aside one percent of their adjusted operating profit to address improved access to hygiene by ensuring high-quality products, providing education and information.
He added that they had mobilized an additional $40 million under the Fight for Access Fund which would be put to the fight against COVID-19.
“Our immediate focus is to address the stress faced by our consumers and communities where we operate, to break the chain of infection and it is with this in mind that we are proud to do our part to support people living with HIV in the region,” he said.
“Dettol soap will promote handwashing which has proven to reduce the number of people who get sick with diarrhea by 23-40%, reduces respiratory illnesses like colds in the general population by 16-21%, and reduces absenteeism due to gastrointestinal illness in school children by 29-57%.”
The initiative to distribute the hygiene packs has seen more than 195,000 hygiene packs distributed to people living with HIV in the eastern and southern African (ESA) region.
“To stem the effects of the current pandemic during these unprecedented times, we are inspired by our fight to make access to high-quality hygiene a right, not a privilege,” Mpaso added.