Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Salt intake and non-communicable diseases: workshops by WHO in the FSM

Workshop participants: community based health assistants and workshop presenters

FSMIS (June 18, 2013): A recently published survey report by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that 62 percent of the population of Chuuk State is at risk of developing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, hypertension, respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, etc.

To scale up the State’s public health intervention on NCDs, WHO consultant, Dr. Peter Hoejskov, carried out a workshop on Salt Reduction and on WHO Package of Essential Non-Communicable Disease intervention strategies on June 3rd to 7th.
Dr. Peter Hoejskov
The workshop focused on strengthening the NDC Program framework of action in addressing the various NCD related burdens in Chuuk. In addition, the training aimed at creating a Salt Reduction Strategy Plan that could be pursued as part of NCD Program’s efforts.  

Participants viewed various effects of salt consumption with emphasis on identifying products rich with sodium and laying out facts on health damages from its over use. Salt intake reduction has been acclaimed a key element in NCD prevention and control.

The link between salt and hypertension (high blood pressure) has been established. However, a majority of the population are not aware that high salt intake can lead to stomach cancer, kidney disease, renal stones and bone weakening due to lowering minerals. In addition, reducing salt intake has benefits for those affected by asthma.

Dr. Tamara Nowell, Chuuk Health Services
As shown during the workshop, the daily recommended salt intake for an adult is 5 gram, or one level teaspoon. Some ways to reduce salt include eating fresh foods that are naturally low in sodium, avoiding processed products with high sodium content, and replacing salt with herbs, spices or other flavoring whenever possible when preparing a meal. Reducing salt intake has been identified as the single most cost effective measure for improving population health outcomes throughout the world. Doing so has the potential to save millions of lives each year.

Alongside the Salt Reduction Strategies presentation, the WHO Package of Essential Non-Communicable Disease (PEN) Intervention was conducted to strengthen Primary Health Care capacity by enhancing  community-based health assistants’ knowledge and skills in dealing with NCDs.
The PEN interventions include providing counseling on healthy diets, physical activity, and tobacco cessation in addition to recommendations on the most effective medicines and ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat NCDs and their complications.
Ms. Moria Shomour, Chuuk NCD Program Coordinator
The salt reduction presentation was conducted in Kosrae State by Dr. Hoejskov, accompanied by Mr. Richard Moufa from the WHO representative office in the FSM, a week before it took place in Chuuk.

For further information, contact Mr. Richard Moufa through the FSM Department of Health and Social Affairs at 320-2619.

[Note: Article and photos were provided by Mr. Richard Moufa with editing work done by FSMPIO.]

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