|© UNICEF UK/2008|
|British Airways CEO Willie Walsh and UK National Committee for UNICEF Executive Director David Bull meet patients at Vijibweni Hospital in Tanzania|
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, 17 September 2008 – ‘Change for Good’, the successful fundraising partnership between British Airways and UNICEF, recently celebrated a milestone of £25 million raised since the programme was launched with BA in 1994.
BA Chief Executive Officer Willie Walsh, accompanied by Executive Director David Bull of the UK National Committee for UNICEF and BA cabin crew members, marked the occasion by visiting UNICEF-supported HIV prevention programmes on a visit to Tanzania.
At one of the local clinics supported by Change for Good funds, Mr. Walsh met with several mothers and their babies who have undergone prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) counselling and testing.
Paediatric AIDS programmes
Statistics show that Tanzania suffers significantly from the high burden of HIV infection in eastern Africa, with an estimated adult HIV prevalence of 6.5 percent.
“It’s very humbling to see the real and tangible difference the donations, made so generously by our customers, make here on the ground in Tanzania,” said Mr. Walsh. “The money they give really can transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of children around the world.”
Change for Good has donated almost £800,000 to fund UNICEF Tanzania’s work in establishing effective PMTCT projects and strengthening community-based paediatric AIDS programmes. With this funding, UNICEF Tanzania also trains health workers in crucial HIV prevention and counselling techniques.
|British Airways cabin crew members with patients of the Vijibweni Hospital, where Change for Good donations support the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.|
Water, sanitation and hygiene
UNICEF Representative in Tanzania Heimo Laakkonen explained that the Change for Good funds had helped improve the lives of many families through the construction of wells and sanitation facilities, as well. The programme helped fund the construction of 200 fresh-water wells in Dar es Salaam during a severe water crisis in 1997 and 1998.
“Inadequate and unsafe water, poor sanitation and improper hygiene practices are one of the main causes of diarrhoeal diseases,” Mr. Laakkonen said, adding that diarrhoea is a leading cause of deaths of children under five in Tanzania and globally.
“The Change for Good partnership has helped to significantly alleviate these unnecessary deaths over the past 10 years,” he added.
Fruits of their labour
During their visit, members of the BA and UNICEF delegation visited the sites of some of the original wells drilled using Change for Good funds a decade ago. At one site, the Wailes Primary School has managed to increase enrolment – particularly among girls – as a result of improving the water supply and sanitation facilities.
The lack of hygienic latrines in schools previously resulted in a high drop-out rate among adolescent girls at the school, as it does at others in Tanzania.
The BA cabin crew members on the visit said they were overwhelmed during their interactions with the children, patients, medical health workers and teachers they met in Tanzania. It was an opportunity to witness first-hand the fruits of their labour as the airline’s Change for Good ‘Champions’.
Support in 50 countries
Cabin crews have been instrumental to the success of the partnership, encouraging passengers to make donations of loose change on international flights.
“I also want to pay tribute to the hard work and dedication of our BA Change for Good Champions who do so much to encourage our customers to support these remarkable schemes,” said Mr. Walsh.
Since the programme was launched with BA 14 years ago, Change for Good donations have supported UNICEF’s work in 50 developing countries. Tanzania was the first recipient of these funds.
The global Change for Good programme, which also involves other airlines, was established in 1987.
Jacqueline Namfua provided the reporting for this story.