National Consultation and National Salt Reduction Strategy Development Workshop, Paro, Bhutan 15-18 August, 2016

Representatives of stakeholders from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forest, Ministry of Education, Academia, the National Referral Hospital, Trade, and the Ministry of Health
Dr Ornella Lincetto, WR with the representatives of stakeholders from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forest, Ministry of Education, Academia, the National Referral Hospital, Trade, and the Ministry of Health

19 August, 2016 - A four-day national multisectoral consultation was held in Paro, Bhutan, from 15-18 August, 2016 to develop the National Salt Reduction Strategy.

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) constitute 70% of disease burden in Bhutan and contribute to 56% of total deaths and 21% of premature mortality. Cardiovascular disease is one of the major NCDs in Bhutan. The 2014 National NCDs Risk Factors survey found 36% of Bhutanese population with raised blood pressure - one of the leading risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. The survey also found that Bhutanese consume more than twice the daily recommended level of dietary salt (>9gm). High salt intake increases the risk of many health complications such as high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. WHO recommends a daily allowance of less than 5 grams per day.

In response to the growing burden of NCDs in the country, the Royal Government of Bhutan developed and endorsed the National Multisectoral Strategy and Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs in the year 2015. In the strategic document, the relative targets for reduction of dietary salt consumption were set at 15% and 30% by end of 2020 and 2025, respectively.

Therefore, to make progress on these important targets, the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the WHO Country Office, organized a four-day consultation and strategy development workshop to reduce population dietary salt intake. Representatives of stakeholders from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forest, Ministry of Education, Academia, the National Referral Hospital, Trade, and the Ministry of Health attended the workshop whose objectives were to:

  • Identify and list common sources of salt in Bhutanese diet;
  • Review and identify gaps, challenges, and opportunities to guide development of national strategy and action plan for salt reduction; and
  • Develop a draft national salt reduction strategy and action plan.

By the end of the workshop, the first draft of a national strategy and action plan was developed through extensive consultations among the participating stakeholders. The draft strategy will be finalized by end of October 2016.

The workshop was technically and financially supported by the WHO Country Office, Bhutan, and WHO/SEARO.

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