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Policy dialogue: integrating approaches to reduce CVD burden.

Salt reduction strategies in Georgia.

20th-21st February 2023; Tbilisi, Georgia

The European Office for Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases in Moscow is an integral part of the WHO Regional Office for Europe, to support the European regional programme for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).

The WHO European Office for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable diseases supports the implementation of the European Action plan for food and nutrition which involves supporting countries to improve the nutrition-related data collection and strengthening the policy environment.

Group photo including Prof Francesco Cappuccio (WHO Advisor), and to his left Dr Tamar Gabunia (First Deputy Minister, MOH), Dr Zaza Lominadze (Head of Parliamentary Committee of Healthcare and Social Issues), Dr Silviu Domente (WHO Country Representative) and Dr Kremlin Wickramasinghe (Head, WHO European Office for the Prevention and Control of NCDs).

Salt Intake reduction is one of the key projects for the NCD office and salt reduction activities are linked to cardiovascular disease (CVD) signature initiative. The Regional Director for Europe has initiated an NCD Advisory Council for Innovation in Noncommunicable Diseases. This has six Signature Initiatives including the Signature Initiative to reduce inequalities in CVD burden and high blood pressure prevalence through improving hypertension control in primary care and implementing salt-reduction strategies. This ‘CVD Signature Initiative’ will be pragmatic and practical. Taking person-centered, facility-based and population-level approaches, the following strategies will be employed by WHO to reduce inequalities in the CVD burden and the prevalence of high blood pressure: country demonstration projects in reducing CVD burden through hypertension control (including for people with diabetes) and salt reduction with implementation research; WHO European Regional report on hypertension (prevalence, treatment, control) including gender/inequalities; country profiles; country case studies; inter-country meetings on hypertension guidelines and salt reduction package.

As part of the signature initiative, the NCD office is supporting the targeted countries which show interest and commitment to the CVD SI. Georgia is one of the targeted countries. According to the 2016 STEPS survey, the adult population of Georgia consumes 8.5 mg of salt/day which is significantly higher than the WHO recommended. In order to address the high NCD (CVD) burden in Georgia, integrated and comprehensive approaches addressing hypertension control and salt reduction are essential.

Technical Meeting hosted by Dr Lela Sturua (Head, NCD Dept, NCDC) with the support of Mr Kakha Gvinianidze (WHO Country Office).

Considering the above-mentioned, Georgia is going to start working on the National Salt Reduction Strategy and Action Plan with the participation of different sector representatives - Governmental and Non-Governmental Organizations, Private Sector, and International Organizations. Under the leadership of Ministry of Health (MOH) and with the support of international organizations such as WHO, Georgia plans to develop a national salt reduction strategy with prioritized salt reduction interventions to tackle high salt intake in Georgia.

The meeting is the launch of such initiative in Georgia, followed by a Technical Discussions on Salt Reduction Strategies. (see programme).

Non-Communicable Diseases Risk-factor STEPS survey 2016

Gamkrelidze A, Mebonia N, Sturua L, Demetrashvili N, Kakutia N.
MOH/NCDC/WHO,Tbilisi 2018; pp. 1-57
  • According to the research results, 31.0% of the adult population in Georgia are smokers; 28% are current daily smokers; At this point, the highest smoking prevalence among both sexes was seen in the most productive period, among 30-44 age groups;
  • 39.0% of the population consumes alcohol. 18.3% consumes alcohol excessively;
  • 63.0% of the population in Georgia consumes less than 5 standard servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day; More than one fourth of the population (26.7%) always or often adds salt or salty sauce the dish before or after trying it;
  • Physical activity level among 17.4% of the population does not comply with WHO recommendations; 64.6% is overweight; 33.2% is obese.
  • 37.7% has hypertension or currently is receiving treatment for hypertension; Among those who currently are not receiving treatment for hypertension, 25.1% has high blood pressure;
  • 4.5% of the population in Georgia has high blood glucose levels (≥6.1 mmol/l) or is receiving medications; 8.7% of the population has hypercholesterolemia;
  • Only 20% of the woman population has had cervical cancer screening. Proportion of such women is highest among 30-59 age groups. But, even in this age group less that one third of the women had been screened;
  • Majority of the population (92.4%) is under the influence of 1 or more risk factors of non-communicable diseases. 36.1% is under the influence of 3-5 risk factors. Men are influenced twice as much as women. Almost half of the population of 45 years of age and older (48.6%) has high risk of non-communicable diseases;
  • Research results clearly highlight immediate need to implement effective system for non-communicable diseases prevention and control.


Salt intake in Georgia (2016)

  Mean SD
Men (n=352) 9.65 2.13
Women (n=900) 7.35 1.80
All (n=1,252) 8.45 2.28

Method: spot urine collection

Prof FP Cappuccio delivering: Salt reduction strategies in different contexts.

Mr Kakha Gvinianidze, Ms Pyi Pyi Phyo, Dr Luis D'Souza and Prof FP Cappuccio

Talking with patients about salt can save their lives: doctors fight hypertension in Georgia (15/05/2023)