WASH Comment: UN High-Level Meeting fails to set life-saving targets for salt reduction

UN NCD Summit New York 19-20th September

23rd September

• Salt reduction targets not adopted, despite being identified as the most cost effective measure to reduce NCDs for both developed and developing countries
• Countries urged to take matters in to their own hands: set a target of 5g salt per day by 2025

Click here for the NCD Alliance comment regarding the UN Summit

Professor Graham Macgregor, Chairman of World Action on Salt and Health (WASH) says:

“It is very disappointing that the Political Declaration, signed by the United Nations member states, falls short of setting goals or targets.  It is particularly frustrating when setting a simple target, such as reducing salt intakes to less than 5g per day by 2025 would save millions of lives.  This is in spite of a clear statement by the Director General of the WHO, Margaret Chan, who acknowledged salt reduction as ‘one of the most cost effective, feasible mechanisms to reduce NCDs’.  


“Salt reduction received overwhelming support at the UN Summit by member states, the G77 and CARICOM countries, yet without a target, no action is guaranteed and the food industry will not be held to account. Salt reduction has been identified as the simplest and most cost effective measure to reduce NCDs and it is more cost effective than tobacco control for both developed and developing countries [Ref 1 & 2 NICE and Asaria].


“It is now vital that targets for salt reduction and other priorities such as tobacco control are put place. We cannot allow the commercial interests of the global food and tobacco industry to take precedence over the lives and suffering of individuals.


“In the mean time, we encourage all countries to follow South Africa’s pioneering lead and set their own targets: South Africa has declared it will reduce the mean population intake of salt from the current level of 8-10g per day to less than 5 grams per day by 2020.  This will be achieved by a public health campaign and regulation of the food industry.  


“Both developed and developing countries need to take the lead and set their own targets to reduce NCDs including salt reduction in order to prevent millions of death from stroke and heart disease each year.”

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Notes to Editor
Go to www.worldactiononsalt.com for more information or contact:
• Professor Graham MacGregor on: 020 7882 6217 or 07946 405617, g.macgregor@qmul.ac.uk
• Clare Farrand on: 020 7882 6229 /6018 or c.e.farrand@qmul.ac.uk

References:
1. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). Guidance on the prevention of cardiovascular disease at the population level. http://guidance.nice.org.uk/PH25
2. Asaria P, Chisholm D, Mathers C, Ezzati M, Beaglehole R. Chronic disease prevention: health effects and financial costs of strategies to reduce salt intake and control tobacco use. Lancet 2007;370:2044-53.

About WASH:
World Action On Salt and Health (WASH) was established in 2005 and is a global not-for-profit organisation of 432 members from 81 countries with the mission to improve the health of populations throughout the world by achieving a gradual reduction in salt intake.

Members are mainly experts in hypertension, however some have other roles as well - but all have an interest in reducing salt intake in their individual countries.