Abuja – A firm, Reckitt Benkisser West Africa, plans to invest N1.2 billion in preventing the death of children under five years from the high prevalence rate of diarrhea in the country.
Mr Rahul Murgai, the Managing Director, Reckitt Benkisser West Africa, told State House Correspondents on Tuesday after he led the company on a courtesy visit to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
According the him, the investment is part of a total N7.2 billion the company intends to invest in three countries.
He said “we are investing close to N7.2 billion in three countries of which Nigeria should be a recipient and we are investing N1.2 billion in Nigeria.’’
Murgai said the company was partnering with the Save the Children initiative, while the overall vision of the company was to create healthier lives and happier homes.
He added that statistics showed that “about N455 billion is lost, which is almost 1.3 per cent of the GDP due to poor health and hygiene conditions in the country.
“What this means from a human index perspective is that there is nearly 96,000 lives, nearly 100,000 of small children under the age of five who die due to diarrhea.
“This translates into a startling figure of one child dies every minute due to the lack of preventable diseases getting support in terms of curing children in terms of diarrhea.’’
He explained that the whole essence of the programme was to observe the WHO seven-point programme and be able to cure and save a child from dying from diarrhea.
He said that Dettol, one of its subsidiaries, had been working closely in the past with the Ministry of Health and Save the Children with other NGOs in terms of being the trusted champions of health.
“Our objective is to promote the culture of health and good hygiene and by doing so, we believe we can build a healthier and more prosperous Nigeria.
“The children of tomorrow will see a far stronger nation which is both healthy and wealthy, that is our whole objective.’’
Murgai said that the company chose Nigeria because it had the second highest prevalence of diarrhea in the world where nearly 100,000 children die every year.
“It is our duty as good corporate citizens and as society to be able to save our children.
“So, we have this partnership with Save the Children in order to ensure that the job is done in a pilot fashion.’’
He said that the company was running a pilot scheme in Shomolu Local Government Area of Lagos State “and all these seven points as prescribed by the WHO are being implemented.’’
He observed that before the test and scheme commenced, the prevalence of diarrhea in Shomolu was 7.3 per cent.
Accordingly, he said, “all these initiatives will be able to bring it down by about 50 per cent and bring down the mortality factor by 80 per cent.
“If this is done, then we have a model in which companies and more NGOs can work with the Federal Government and make it a Pan Nigeria initiative.’’ (NAN)