Cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar has been named the regional brand ambassador by the UNICEF to promote its Total Sanitation Campaign in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal. After signing the relevant documents accepting his new role in the presence of Karin Hulshof, UNICEF regional director South Asia here on Thursday, Mr. Tendulkar said he was thrilled to be part of the programme and he would try his utmost to make aware the importance of washing one’s hands.

“Thank you [UNICEF] for allowing me to start a wonderful second innings of my life. I will serve the initiative to the best of my ability. I will try my best. Hygiene is important and washing hands with soap after visiting the toilet is like a vaccine to prevent diseases. I am surprised to know that 36 per cent of the world population do not have access to clean toilets. I am also baffled that 1600 children die every day because of diarrhoeal disease.”

In the course of her introductory observations, Ms. Hulshof pointed out that Mr. Tendulkar and the UNICEF would have a lot to do together. “South Asia is the region with the highest number of under-5 deaths [2.3 million in 2011] and South Asia is the region where 70 million children , under the age of five years are stunted due to chronic malnutrition.”

Mr. Husholf also told Mr. Tendulkar that by playing cricket, he had the unique power to reach all villages and communities of Asia and the UNICEF believed that he could be as effective to bring about changes in relation to hygiene and sanitation.

More In: News | Sport