WHO’s supported interventions on salt intake reduction in the sub-Saharan Africa region
Reduction of salt intake is an important and cost-effective way for reducing hypertension and the risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). Current global salt intakes are estimated at around 10 g/day, well above the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended level of <5 g/day. The sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region has a prevalence of hypertension of 46% among adults aged 25 and over and therefore strategies to reduce salt intake are necessary. This requires an understanding of salt intake behaviors in the population along with government commitment to increase awareness and take actions that would create an enabling environment. It is also important to have the food industry and other key stakeholders on board. A review of the developed WHO’s norms and guidelines, technical support provided to countries by WHO as well as country initiatives shows that countries in the African region are at different stages in the implementation of salt reduction interventions. For example, South Africa has enacted legislation to make the food industry reduce the salt content of a number of its products while Mauritius is requesting bakery owners to reduce salt in bread. A number of countries are currently undertaking studies to measure salt intake in the populations. Overall progress is slow as the Region experiences a double burden of communicable and noncommunicable diseases, competing health priorities and limited resources for health.