On 11th March 2020, the world came to a standstill when the coronavirus outbreak was officially declared a pandemic. While health workers and specialists all around the world are still struggling to find a cure, one method of prevention reigns supreme: thoroughly washing your hands. The important takeaway here is that something as simple and easy as handwashing can prevent the spread of a life-threatening virus. Such is the importance of cleanliness; of maintaining good hygiene. Therefore, in order to create awareness and educate the masses, Reckitt Benckiser launched the "Dettol Harpic Porichchonno (clean & hygienic) Bangladesh" campaign in 2017 to boost personal and community hygiene in Bangladesh.
The ongoing campaign, till date, has taken multiple initiatives to ensure a cleaner and healthier lifestyle for the people of Bangladesh and successfully implemented them. The key activities of this campaign include teaching hygiene to school students, training mothers on infant health and protection, participating directly in cleaning campaigns across the country and ultimately, encouraging people from all walks of life to take such initiatives. Additionally, employees of Dettol Bangladesh and Harpic Bangladesh had pledged to devote a total of 100,000 hours to a cleaner Bangladesh.
In light of the pandemic, poor and underprivileged households have been in deep disadvantage mainly due to limited access to resources. Dettol Harpic Porichchonno Bangladesh believes everyone should have the right to a clean and hygienic lifestyle despite their socio-economic standing. Keeping this in mind, the campaign, in collaboration with BRAC NGO, has distributed disinfectant and hygiene products for free among more than 50,000 disadvantaged families. Also, with help from Bangladesh Scouts, the campaign has distributed disinfectants and other necessary items such as masks, PPEs to frontline workers to ensure their safety. It also played a significant role in raising awareness on the need of hygienic toilets to prevent Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) and other diseases on World Toilet Day. With around 56 million people, especially women, suffering from different diseases due to the use of unhealthy toilets or lack thereof, Dettol Harpic Porichchonno Bangladesh pledged to leave no one behind when it comes to proper sanitation.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with the existing threat of deadly mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue, makes it crucial to practice good hygiene and maintain cleanliness to prevent the spread. Especially in the case of mosquito borne diseases in Bangladesh, creating awareness and acting accordingly can help nip the creation of mosquitos in the bud. Awareness and consequent adaption of proper cleanliness practices is, therefore, the easiest and most economically efficient method of prevention. Dettol Harpic Porichchonno Bangladesh, therefore, also launched a campaign on personal hygiene and sanitation was also carried out at 25 streets and at 25 schools in the capital to raise awareness about hygiene and about mosquito-borne diseases like dengue.
Bangladeshi actor Riaz, who is involved with the campaign, said, "Dettol Harpic Porichchonno Bangladesh" is about what we all want, a clean & hygienic Bangladesh. We put so much effort in keeping our homes clean then why not replicate the same efforts for our beloved country? We are all quite aware that we need to build a cleaner and healthier nation and it is now high time to act on it."
Dettol Harpic Porichchonno Bangladesh also introduced the "Pledge for cleanliness" campaign in association with Bangladesh Scouts. The campaign was carried out in 25 areas of Dhaka and some areas in Chandpur and Gopalganj. The campaigners, carrying pledge boards and banners displaying cleanliness tips and slogans, urged people to dump waste materials in assigned places, educate children on cleanliness, help make their life healthy and clean, wash hands before meals, and keep toilets clean and sanitized. Another programme called "Porichchonno Math (field)" was introduced by the campaign in which playing fields in the capital were cleaned up so the youth could enjoy sports and other recreational activities in the open air. This cleanup campaign was conducted especially for the sake of the children's physical and mental health development since they spend majority of their time cooped up in the concrete jungle. Furthermore, to create awareness on properly washing your hands in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the "Dettol Handwash Challenge" was launched where people from all walks of life participated on social media to win cash prizes. Through such campaigns and social media challenges especially catered to the youth, Porichchonno Bangladesh is not only conditioning the next generation to adapt a cleaner way of life but also indirectly educating the parents through their children on such practices.
Speaking of the campaign, Salahuddin Ahmed Tarek, chief coordinator of Dettol Harpic Porichchonno Bangladesh, said, "Our motto is to build a clean and healthy country. From the very beginning we have been invested in educating the masses, especially the youth who are the future of our country. The ongoing global health crisis cannot deter us from doing our work, in fact we are now putting in more effort to reduce the spread through various initiatives"
The issue of cleanliness has a social and cultural dimension. Consequently, positive changes in socio-hygienic behavior of the community is a key source of bringing about sustainable growth and development. The right kind of behavior changes will heavily contribute to cutting down economic costs caused by the negative externalities of unclean environments and viral diseases. With continued collaboration from the Government as well as the general public, campaigns like Porichchonno Bangladesh, which help drive changes in behavior, have the potential to successfully transform Bangladesh into a clean and thriving country.