A new consortium of organizations concerned about the health effects of excess consumption of dietary salt is meeting at PAHO headquarters on Aug 28 and 29 as part of a series of activities organized under the Pan American Forum for Action on Non-communicable Diseases (PAFNCDs). Members of the consortium will discuss the development of standards for salt content in foods and identify roles for different sectors in promoting reduced dietary salt consumption as an intervention for prevention and control of hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
"PAHO recognizes that more needs to be done in this area, and the various issues require careful and sustained attention with the support of experts to start, securing and expanding national operations, and to encourage civil society engagement , international organizations and the private sector to help reduce salt intake, "said Dr. Mirta Roses, Director of PAHO, in opening the meeting.
"The Pan American Forum for Action on Noncommunicable Diseases has begun a valuable commitment to support this effort to reduce salt in the food," she added.
In May 2012, during the Pan American Forum meeting, representatives of governments, the food industry and civil society. along with PAHO, recommended establishing a multilateral consortium of organizations with a common interest in reducing salt in the diet. This consortium will continue its work and support the actions identified by the PAHO Expert Group on Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease by reducing salt in the diet.
In her speech, Dr. Roses noted that reducing salt for prevention of cardiovascular diseases has been a concern of PAHO since September 2009, when she called a group of experts to address this issue. This group made a series of key recommendations to reduce sodium consumption levels in the region.
"When we launched the initiative, three countries reported having active strategies to reduce salt intake at the population level. Two years later, more countries have become strong approaches led a growing momentum with various sectors and stakeholders, "said Dr. Roses. The performance of the expert group, added, provided technical information and guidelines for countries to work on policies that encourage the reduction of salt in food.
"Too much salt is very common in our modern diet, and we all know that a large salt goes a long way. All stakeholders have a role to play. Work together and with the commitment to move forward, "concluded Dr. Roses.
This is the first meeting of partnerships in various sectors under the Pan American Forum. At the meeting this week, members of the consortium discussed how to build a social norm to reduce salt intake and how to implement standards to highlight partner content in foodstuffs.
The Pan American Forum for Action Against Noncommunicable Diseases aims to address the epidemic of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), responsible for 80% of deaths in the Americas, through a platform to convene the whole-of-society and provide a space for the exchange of information. It also aims to create synergies for the development of innovative strategic alliances to strengthen collaboration of all sectors to develop policies and campaigns to prevent and control these diseases.