Media Mum Urges Others to Join Her in Fight Against Global Killer

( Popular television star and Kiwi mum, Teuila Blakely, is joining the fight against a global disease responsible for the death of millions of children worldwide and is urging other New Zealand parents to join her.

The Vicks Breathe for Life Project, a partnership between the Procter & Gamble (P&G) cough/cold brand and Save the Children charity, will treat 75,000 children suffering from pneumonia – the leading cause of death in children under the age of five worldwide.*

Concentrated in one of the world’s most underdeveloped nations, Bangladesh, the project aims to prevent, diagnose and treat pneumonia in the most remote communities where access to basic healthcare is sparse.

According to the World Health Organisation, every 20 seconds a child dies from pneumonia** – a total of 4,320 young lives lost every day to a preventable, treatable disease which infects the lungs causing cough, fever and breathing difficulties.

Shortland Street actress, Blakely, is championing the campaign along with fellow media personality Carly Flynn, and says she is privileged to be involved.

“Having raised a son in a country like New Zealand with such competent health care facilities it is heartbreaking to think that there are still children in other less fortunate countries who are suffering from such a curable condition,” says Blakely.

“The work that Save the Children does in Bangladesh is critical in giving communities access to pneumonia treatment, and I think it is wonderful that Vicks is helping to give this work the attention it deserves, and giving more kids the chance of a healthy life.”

Every time a Vicks product is purchased, and for every ‘like’ on the Vicks New Zealand Facebook page from April 1, Vicks will make a donation to the Save the Children pneumonia campaign in Bangladesh.

“I wholeheartedly urge Kiwis to get out there and help this cause. It’s as simple as buying a product, which most people use commonly during the winter season anyway. But this time it not only helps you, but you are also saving a life elsewhere in the world. It couldn’t be more simple,” Blakely says.

Save the Children CEO, Liz Gibbs, says that with support from Kiwis through the Vicks Breathe for Life Project, the charity aims to train an additional 1,600 health workers and village doctors who will provide accessible healthcare services to 135,000 children in Bangladesh.

They will also reach 270,000 mothers and caregivers through the programme, providing them with the skills to look out for the early warning signs of pneumonia.

“Save the Children has a long history working with developing countries to improve the lives of children around the world. With the support of Vicks and the New Zealand public, we’ll be able to strengthen our work at the community level to train health workers on proper pneumonia diagnosis and treatment and to provide educational programmes. We have a long term commitment with our partner, P&G to ensure we create a lasting change in those communities in need,” Gibbs says.

Since 2010, Vicks has helped to immunise over 4.5 million children in developing countries under the age of five against measles. Providing vaccines against measles is a key measure to prevent pneumonia, a commitment previously delivered by the brand through the Vicks Road to Relief initiative.

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Media Release 2 April 2012.