LSHTM and Reckitt launch new Forum to advance understanding of hygiene

The Reckitt Hygiene Forum, which aims to advance understanding of hygiene as the foundation of public health, has been launched as part of a five-year partnership between the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Reckitt.

Based in LSHTM's building in Keppel Street, London, the Forum provides state-of-the-art facilities for hygiene research and teaching, as well as for collaboration with global partners. The Forum is designed to help foster new innovation in hygiene science by providing a base to bring together leaders and experts in the field and producing new research that drives real-world impact. Its program activities over the next three years will include behavior change research, safe surface science and work to advance our understanding of the mechanical transmission of diseases.  

This new Forum will allow us to increase our understanding of the links between hygiene and health. We hope to inform solutions that could improve global health through research, teaching and global collaborations.

We are excited to join forces with Reckitt in the latest step towards improving hygiene access and knowledge, and to develop the next generation of hygiene health experts."

Professor Liam Smeeth, Director of LSHTM

The launch is the latest milestone in a long-term partnership between Reckitt and LSHTM focusing on the links between hygiene and health.

As well as enabling the restoration of original 1920s period features, and refurbishment of offices to house the Forum's new base at LSHTM, partnership activities so far include awarding four new PhD studentships at LSHTM, supporting exceptional scientists to advance hygiene research across sub-Saharan Africa. Their projects in Uganda, Zambia, and Mozambique will explore topics including school-based menstrual hygiene interventions, addressing food hygiene and antibiotic use in the emergence of antimicrobial resistance, and the potential for water sanitation and hygiene solutions for health challenges such as enteric infection among children.

The Reckitt partnership has also funded two seed grants, to support new, innovative research on health and hygiene - funding early-career scientists for one-year research projects to address gaps in our current understanding of the links between hygiene and health.

It has also been instrumental in advancing hygiene best practice, including through the creation with LSHTM researchers of Reckitt's science-based Hygiene Protocols that helped keep more than 30,000 delegates from over 190 countries safe from COVID-19 at COP26 conference in Glasgow. The same science will also help protect visitors to the Commonwealth Games this year.  

Laxman Narasimhan, CEO of Reckitt, said: "At Reckitt, we believe that the highest quality hygiene is a right and not a privilege. Our partnership with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is the latest example of how we're partnering with experts across the academic community, to provide leadership on hygiene, drive the fight for access, and generate new solutions.

"Together, we're seeking to advance the understanding of hygiene as the foundation of health, in our shared mission to create a cleaner, healthier world."

This latest collaboration builds on work of the Reckitt Global Hygiene Institute (RGHI), which launched in 2020. The RGHI is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to create a central repository of hygiene research to fill the gaps in science-based evidence around hygiene. It commissions specific, directed research through grant funding and funds a post-doctoral fellowship program in hygiene, guided by an independent expert panel of globally recognized public health experts.  

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