While India has brought down her infant mortality rate by 60 per cent in the last decade, the proportional mortality accounted by diarrhoeal diseases remains high.
In fact, diarrhoea continues to remain the third leading cause of childhood mortality in the country, responsible for about 13 per cent of all deaths per year in children under five years of age.
Among other reasons leading to this life-threatening condition, factors associated with increased risk were the indiscriminate stool disposal by mothers, a lack of hand-washing before feeding children as well as hand-washing without soap.
These shocking indicators led industrial designers, Amanat Anand and Shubham Issar, to conceptualise a unique product that has immense scope in bringing down diarrhoea-related infant mortalities in India.
SoaPen is a portable soap that is designed in shape of a pen that is compact, colourful and easy to use. Leaving marks on the skin, the product aims to promote thorough and regular hand-washing with soap among children.
It all began in the summer of 2015 when the two girls came together to collaborate on their first project while pursuing their undergraduate degrees at Parsons School of Design in the USA.
In their own words, the duo was driven by the idea of creating objects that people not only desired but also needed. Their combined interest in the field of social impact design led them to The Wearables for Good Challenge by UNICEF, ARM technologies, and frog design, where they zeroed in on behavioural change and hygiene.
“We were moved and shocked by the fact that the soap usage can reduce infant mortality rates caused by diseases such as diarrhoea. We believe that a grave problem can be solved by adding a little fun to the solution, specially when kids are involved!” they mentioned in SoaPen’s Facebook page.
Amanat and Shubham went on to win the challenge with their revolutionary concept, and were listed in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2017.
Currently, they are fellows at the Halcyon Incubator in Georgetown, DC.
Available in an assortment of colours, SoaPen is hypoallergenic and free from sulphates, phthalates, parabens and EDTA (ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid), making it safe for children. Leaving no stains behind, SoaPen’s direct-to-hand roller ball makes sure of optimal usage of soap and no wastage.
All you need to do is draw on your hands with the pen and sprinkle warm water on the markings to form a soft lather. Wash it off and voila, clean hands!
Currently available only in the USA, imagine if these are made available to children and parents across India, especially from the underprivileged factions. Not only will we be able to bring down diarrhoea-related infant mortalities but also pave the way for a healthy and hygienic way of living.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)