According to UNICEF, Malawi has hygiene practices are that are rather low, with only 37 per cent of the population practicing safe hygiene. Additionally, diarrheal diseases are the leading cause of mortality among children under 5 in Malawi, and contaminated drinking water and poor hygiene are important causes. To address this shortfall, GSP has partnered with two significant projects in 2012 in Malawi.
Partners in Health (PIH) is an international health organization committed to improving the health of the poor and marginalized. They build local public health capacity and work closely with impoverished communities to deliver healthcare and preventive medicine. PIH took 24,000 bars in June 2012 to be distributed across 11 communities in the Neno district of Malawi. This will be an ongoing partnership between PIH, its local partner APZU, and GSP to improve hygiene education and practice in the Neno district. An estimated 1600 households will get monthly supplies of our soap, with the goal of connecting them with local suppliers over time. In March 2013 the soap was being distributed to patients with HIV/AIDS who are particularly vulnerable to disease.
Our second significant project is the Hygiene Promotion through Malawi Antenatal Care System in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and its partners, the Clinton Foundation, PATH international, USAID, UNICEF and PSI/Malawi. This project includes the distribution of 25,000 Water Hygiene Kits (water storage container with lid and tap, WaterGuard, soap, and ORS) and up to 4 refills of WaterGuard and soap to pregnant women using antenatal and postnatal services in 15 selected health facilities in Machinga District.
Antenatal clinic staff are trained in SWS and handwashing and there is ongoing education of mothers provided during subsequent antenatal, postnatal, and home visits. Water treatment and hygiene behaviors are also monitored during home visits.
The goal of this project is to improve the health and the overall pregnancy for the mothers by incentivizing their clinic visits. In addition, through the hygiene and handwashing education, the health of the entire family will be improved long-term, as the child will grow up in a home where soap is used regularly.
120,000 bars were delivered in late October, 2012 and nearly 25,000 have since been delivered.