K Noorjehan, Chief Post Master General, Maharashtra Circle released a special Lifebuoy Swasthya Chetna Postal Cover on the occasion of World Health Day. The postal cover has been released to recognise Lifebuoy’s pioneering rural health and hygiene education initiative, called Lifebuoy Swasthya Chetna. Launched in 2002, this ground-breaking programme has covered more than 17,000 villages across the country.
Ogilvy Outreach, the rural activation division of Ogilvy & Mather, implements this campaign, which focuses on media dark districts in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa and West Bengal.
Nitin Paranjpe, Executive Director, HLL, said, “We are delighted to be India’s first brand to receive the honour of the special Postal Cover. The Lifebuoy Swasthya Chetna movement has touched 20 lakh children across eight states and created awareness about the threat of invisible germs and basic hygiene practices to counter the threat. So far, we have covered over 17,000 villages and are happy to extend our efforts to another 10,000 villages this year. This recognition will go a long way in highlighting the importance of basic hygiene practices that help prevent diseases.”
True to its vision of making people feel safe and secure by meeting their hygiene and health needs, Lifebuoy saw a role for itself in hygiene education. Lifebuoy Swasthya Chetna has been developed around the insight that people believe “visible clean is safe clean”. Lifebuoy Swasthya Chetna establishes the existence of “invisible germs” through a Glo-Germ demonstration. It has educated people about maintaining good health through the practice of basic hygiene habits like washing hands with soap.
The Lifebuoy Swasthya Chetna campaign is divided into various phases. In the initial phase, the Lifebuoy representative and an assistant interact with young students and the influencers of the community like the Sarpanch, medical practitioners, Panchayat members, etc. A number of tools like a pictorial story in a flip chart format, the Glo-germ demonstration and a quiz with attractive prizes to reinforce the message are used to make the module interactive and gain involvement and participation from the school children.
This interaction is replicated with the rest of the community on Swasthya Diwas and the key messages on hygiene and health are reinforced through subsequent contact programmes, thus preparing the community to sustain good health practices by internalising these messages. In subsequent interactions, the parents are exposed to the health and hygiene communication. The purpose is to present the activity as the villagers’ self initiative, wherein the Lifebuoy Swasthya Chetna health officer is a facilitator and an influential personality from the village is the chief guest. This brought about an ownership of the campaign from the village community.
After covering over 17,000 villages between 2002 and 2005, an additional 10,000 villages are being added in 2006 making Lifebuoy Swasthya Chetna the single largest programme of its kind in India.