Renown health and human rights activist to speak at EXPLORE Healthcare Summit

The leading causes of death for children in developing countries are hygiene-related illnesses, which claim more than 1.8 million lives each year. That’s nearly one third of all child deaths.

Simple handwashing with soap is the most effective way to prevent those deaths. In fact, research has shown that soap can reduce diarrheal disease by nearly one half and rates of respiratory infection by about one quarter. 

Derreck Kayongo, a keynote speaker at this year’s EXPLORE Healthcare Summit held Aug. 10-11 in Norman, took this simple concept and put a plan in action to bring soap to communities in developing countries.

Sherry Haworth, president of PLICO, which organizes and hosts the conference for health professionals, said the work that Kayongo has done at home and abroad offers lessons for all who have dedicated their lives to healthcare. 

“Derreck Kayongo, a renowned expert in global health, brings this unique perspective,” Haworth said. “He will share his experiences with healthcare providers in an effort to help them see their issues in a different light and imagine innovative possibilities to effectively solve any challenge – with the ultimate goal of greater quality of care for all Oklahomans.”

Kayongo is the founder of the Global Soap Project, which recycles partially used bars of soap from thousands of hotels and redistributes it to disadvantaged populations around the world. Since 2009, the project has distributed soap to more than 90 countries where close to 2 million lives are claimed each year due to lack of proper hygiene.

The group’s goal is to ensure that once people receive soap, they have access to it for the rest of their lives.  This means helping them understand how to use it, why to use it, and why it is worth acquiring from local sources long-term.  The project offers an immediate positive health impact that can be sustained for the rest of their lives while supporting local economies, and without creating dependence on the group or free soap.

To help fulfill this goal, they operate an ongoing micro-loan program to provide start-up capital and training to small-scale soap makers in communities that lack access to quality, affordable soap around the world.  This helps support the local economy, while ensuring the positive impact on global health is sustainable long-term.

Unique experiences led to unique passion

Kayongo and his family fled a civil war in Uganda and settled in the U.S. when he was just ten years old. Now a successful entrepreneur, Kayongo is a renowned expert in environmental sustainability and global health. 

Kayongo’s experience as a human rights activist, combined with his lifelong commitment to his work and notable rhetorical skills, earned him his current role as the CEO at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. Called a “living embodiment of the center’s mission,” Kayongo is elevating the visibility of the center and expanding its vision beyond its geography.

Recognized with a range of honors and awards for his activism, including as one of CNN’s Top 10 Heroes award in 2011, most recently Kayongo was selected by President Jimmy Carter to interview him as part of the National Archives’ Amending America Initiative.

EXPLORE seeks to educate and encourage

“Along with interactive breakout sessions designed to provide practical, real-world solutions for day-to-day challenges, EXPLORE also strives to bring unique perspectives from around the world to inspire creative, out-of-the-box approaches to some of the bigger issues. Mr. Kayongo’s work represents this kind of vision,” Haworth said.

EXPLORE Healthcare Summit 2017 will feature other keynote speakers, including J.R. Martinez, a veteran, actor and motivational speaker; Seth Mattison, workforce strategist; Richard Moses, DO, JD, consultant for Medical Liability, Risk Management and Compliance; and Crystal Washington, marketing strategist and technology translator. Other speakers and workshops will round out the event.

“EXPLORE is a platform on which we, at PLICO, can demonstrate our commitment to supporting healthcare professionals in their continuous efforts to improving healthcare delivery in Oklahoma,” Haworth said. 

“With the rapidly evolving nature of the healthcare industry, it is more important than ever to bring providers across various specialties and geographic regions together to discuss the future of Oklahoma healthcare,” she added.

There will also be social and networking time at the summit, including the EXPO Opening Reception Thursday at the conference center, as well as a cocktail party later that evening at the Devon Boathouse, located on the Oklahoma River in downtown Oklahoma City.

Attendees can receive continuing education credits for attending the summit.

For more information about EXPLORE Healthcare Summit, or to register for the event, visit


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Renown health and human rights activist to speak at EXPLORE Healthcare Summit

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