From Beverage Manufacturer to COVID-19 Killer

Ghanaian beverage company Kasapreko shifts production to hand sanitizer

by Demi Priscilla Letsa Duah, Technical Director, Total Family Health Organization and John Sauer, Sr. Technical Advisor, WASH, PSI

Did you know that the World Health Organization (WHO) has published a free formula for hand sanitizer to help nations fight COVID-19? PSI’s Ghanaian independent network member, the Total Family Health Organization (TFHO), was determined to make equitable use of that formula as part of its sanitation work supporting the Government of Ghana. But to do so, they needed help…from a beverage company.

TFHO established itself as a market player in Ghana’s health sector in July 2018, with a focus on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). Its mission: to support the government of Ghana in positively and significantly impacting the health status of the population. To achieve that goal, it markets a variety of health products in addition to behavior change interventions.

This positioning enabled TFHO to quickly respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by providing technical assistance to one of Ghana’s largest alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage manufacturers, Kasapreko Company Limited (KCL), to produce hand and surface sanitizer.

In accordance with global COVID-19 prevention guidelines, Ghana’s Ministry of Health recommends regular handwashing with soap and running water and the use of alcohol-based hand rub/sanitizers (containing at least 60% alcohol) in addition to other measures such as social distancing. So, like everywhere else, there has been an increased demand for hand sanitizers in the Ghanaian market with the outbreak of the pandemic. Also, hand sanitizers are a particularly critical health product because of existing challenges in the WASH sector such as inadequate proper handwashing stations in homes, schools and other public areas.

This demand, coupled with limited local production and delayed imports, has resulted in scarcity and an astronomical price increase of this essential commodity. In response, the national government requested that local manufacturing organizations produce hand sanitizers with the assurance of an expedited regulatory approval process by the Ghana Food and Drugs Authority (FDA).

Enter Kasapreko. TFHO seized on this market-based solution and reached out to the beverage company, then provided technical assistance to help it produce hand sanitizer using the World Health Organization’s recommended formula for the alcohol-based hand rub.

This initiative is not simply supply-driven. TFHO offers a complete market development approach, which includes market segmentation, behavior change to facilitate the adoption of desired positive hand hygiene behavior, effective marketing to drive sales, and close partnership with the government for a supportive policy environment.

An advertisement for hand sanitizer produced by Kasapreko Company, with technical assistance from TFHO.
An advertisement for hand sanitizer produced by Kasapreko Company with technical assistance from TFHO.

To support this approach, TFHO is now expanding partnerships to other local sanitizer manufacturers and has launched a TFHO social marketing brand, TF Sanitizer, under its Total Family Care range of products. The TF sanitizer consists of a hand sanitizer gel offered in 200ml and 4.5L containers, and a solution for hands and surfaces available in 250ml, 500ml, 750ml, and 4L. In the first two weeks of commercial launch, a total of 600,000 bottles and 54,000 bottles of the 200mls and 750mls pack sizes respectively has been distributed nationwide—in 16 regions across both urban and rural areas.

To sell these products, TFHO’s social behavior change communications activities use audiovisual, digital, and print tools to augment product sales—channeled through social media, radio and TV, as well as pharmacies and health stores. A program targeted at school children and healthcare workers is also in development and will feature comprehensive hand hygiene messages. TFHO is also developing a cartoon that consumers will identify with the sanitizer products, to increase brand recognition, drive familiarity, and encourage purchase and use.

This work will be carried out in partnership with Ghana Health Service, the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana and the Ghana Medical Association, and will be aligned with COVID-19 prevention strategies and the country’s hand hygiene policies and guidelines.

With a focus on sustainability and job creation, TFHO is currently using income from the sales of sanitation and family planning products to finance the above efforts. However, they need to move faster as the pandemic has yet to slow its pace. TFHO and PSI are actively seeking additional funding partners to scale up these and other COVID-19 response interventions—fast.

If you would like to help PSI and its network members create increasingly sustainable sanitation markets to prevent the spread of COVID-19 globally, please get in touch. Cheers!

Banner image credit: PSNS & IMF, photo by Scott Hansen

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