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New World Health Organization Collaborating Centre on Population Sodium Reduction launches in Australia

Media release: 
26/03/2013

The George Institute for Global Health in Sydney has been designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a Collaborating Centre on Population Sodium Reduction. The Centre will undertake research and support to countries to implement cost effective strategies to reduce population sodium intake.

New data on the global burden of disease published in the Lancet this year showed that cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death and disability worldwide – with high blood pressure being one of the main causes of cardiovascular diseases and sodium a key contributor to high blood pressure.

Reducing population sodium intake could save millions of lives each year globally. It has been estimated to be cost saving for many countries due to the large burden that diseases caused by eating too much salt are currently placing on health budgets.

WHO Director of Prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases, Dr Douglas Bettcher, said the designation of the new WHO Collaborating Centre was consistent with the World Health Assembly's target of a 25 per cent reduction in non-communicable disease mortality by 2025.

"In a few weeks the World Health Assembly will continue the work it started last year when it endorsed the above mentioned global target by 2025. We are pleased to designate The George Institute as a WHO Collaborating Centre on Population Sodium Reduction, as we work towards 2025 sodium reduction goals," said Dr Bettcher.

The George Institute Head of Food Policy and Director of the new centre, Dr Jacqui Webster, said The George Institute was honoured to have been designated by the World Health Organization to collaborate with them to address this important issue.

"Most countries throughout the world are eating too much salt with significant adverse consequences for health. Both organisations are committed to the goal of improving health globally and if we work together this goal is achievable," she said.

The centre launches this week with a Salt Reduction and Iodine Fortification Strategies in Public Health consultation. This is part of the WHO's Non-Communicable Disease action plan implementation program, to begin the development of a Framework for Member States for salt reduction strategies to help them achieve the global targets.

Background information

The Collaborating Centre on Population Sodium Reduction will:

  • Provide technical advice and support to Member States, particularly low and middle income countries, on the development and implementation of salt reduction strategies
  • Serve as a common portal for accessing evidence based research and advice to support the development and implementation of effective salt reduction strategies
  • Be a forum for exchange of best practice information in relation to salt reduction as well as a range of tools and guidance documents
  • Provide support to countries in relation to measuring and monitoring progress on reducing salt intake and salt levels in foods