Hygiene as a Frontier for Good Health

By Rakesh Kapoor, CEO, RB

Hygiene as a Frontier for Good Health

It seems we are often on the brink of something historic or being given the opportunity of a lifetime but in the case of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals in New York this weekend it may actually be true.

If the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals are fully implemented by their deadline of 2030 then they could herald the end of extreme poverty, an end to soaring inequality and the protection of people and planet from deadly climate change.

The goals are the result of the most inclusive process in UN history and their ambition is life-changing.

While these goals are achievable, they are not inevitable unless we act. We have the resources, technologies, knowledge, and solutions to create a better world; now we need to mobilise commitment and action coming out of this UN summit, into Paris, and beyond.

As focus shifts from the adoption of the goals to next year’s implementation, we need to make sure that countries can hold themselves, and one another, to account on progress. These goals must be about more than words. They need to be about concrete action to improve billions of lives and protect the planet, now and in the decades to come.

There is a role for everyone in delivering the goals from world leaders to NGOs, from businesses to individuals. We’ll all need to work together, challenging one another to think long-term to deliver lasting change.

Save the Children and RB have been working together since 2003 raising over £23.5million to date and reaching 1.5m children – but we are ambitious and there is much more to do. Our innovative partnership brings together Save the Children’s long-standing experience of delivering life-saving work on the ground with RB’s experience in product development and behaviour change.

Achieving the global goals requires all of us to pull together, play to our strengths and share expertise.

We believe that hygiene is a frontier for good health as well as extremely important for nutrition, equity, and economic development. While we fully support the goal to ‘ensure access to water and sanitation for all’ we are concerned about the removal of the planned hygiene indicator because of an attempt to reduce the overall number of global indicators – this is short-sighted. How will we measure and monitor global progress in this area without one? We need a mandatory, global indicator to ensure that hygiene is prioritised, progress made, and commitments fulfilled.

The indicator for our own work in this area is stark. Every year 567,000 children under-five die needlessly from diarrhoea – equivalent to 64 children every hour. This is why, in March, we announced that we’d be launching a new programme to help eradicate child deaths from diarrhoea through prevention, control and treatment. One of the countries we’ll be working in is India where over 120,000 people die every year, the highest diarrhoea death rate in the world.

At the weekend in India, the global goals were projected on to the Parana Quila in Delhi. Over 100,000 people took to the streets in over 150 events in over 100 countries around the world in an unprecedented show of support for an end to the great injustices of our time – poverty, inequality and climate change. Through projections, candles, and torches people were united by the common symbol of light. It is now our responsibility to make sure that no one is left behind, that we keep this light burning brightly.

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