St. Vincent and the Grenadines is one of four CARICOM countries that have been chosen to conduct social marketing training and technical assistance to reduce daily salt intake.
The other participating countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and Jamaica.
The project is being led by Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) Salt Smart Consortium, acting as the secretariat, supported by Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC). Technical support is being provided by the University of South Florida and World Health Organisation (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Social Marketing and Social Change.
In keeping with one of the request of the project, the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment has formed a group called the “SVG Salt -Smart Coalition”. This is multi-sectoral group, made up of various stakeholders from public and private sectors and NGOs that will be responsible for conducting the project.
Specifically, the aim of the project is to provide strategies to encourage mothers of primary school age children to:
* Cook with less salt
* Buy low salt products, so as to prepare their children to succeed in the 21st century free from the host of chronic diseases such as hypertension and stroke that are affecting persons between 30-69 years in SVG.
In our Caribbean setting, in most cases the mother is responsible for food selection and preparation for the family, and, therefore, is in a very good position to change salt consumption habits in the home. The mother can influence the amount of salt that her children eat at home and at school.
One of the marketing tactics in this project would be to focus interventions on changing social norms, governmental and organisational policies, and aspects of the environment (for example, access to low salt alternatives) that impact individual decisions about salt consumption, especially in the home and school.
The project was officially launched at the Kingstown Health Centre this month during “World Salt Awareness Week 2016”, under the theme “Reduce Salt Healthier Life”.
The launch, which took the form of a sensitisation session, highlighted popular salt products that are used for children in SVG. The amount of salt contained in these popular food items such as corn curls, sausages, salted nuts, Pringles etc., were measured and displayed. Alternatives in the form of fruits, vegetables, natural herbs and spices, etc., were also displayed.
During the launch addresses were heard from Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment, Sen. Luke Browne; PAHO Country Representative, Anneke Wilson; NCD Co-ordinator, Beverly Liverpool – and Chief Nutritionist, Andrea Robin.
Figures from the Health Information Unit (MHWE) reveal that at the end of 2013, close to 7,000 persons were diagnosed with hypertension in SVG. Kingstown Health Centre recorded the highest amount — 540 cases.
This was followed by Calliaqua Health Centre — 356 cases, then, Port Elizabeth Health Centre in Bequia — 347 cases.
Therefore, three areas were chosen to conduct the Salt Reduction Project.
The World Health Organization has set a goal to reduce the global population average salt consumption by 30 per cent by 2025 as a way to move towards the recommended level of less than 1 teaspoon/5 gram of salt per day in adults.
The next launch of the project is expected to take place at Calliaqua Health Centre, during Child Health Clinic, tomorrow (Tuesday) at 9 a.m.
A launch will be held Port Elizabeth on April 4.