In Iraq, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) account for 50% of deaths, many of which could be prevented through simple lifestyle-related changes and cost-effective governmental interventions. Cardiovascular diseases, which are common NCDs in Iraq and are mainly caused by high blood pressure, could be prevented even by modest reductions in dietary salt.
As part of its work with governments to strengthen the prevention and control of NCDs with focus on advocating for national policy changes to create an enabling environment that promotes and reinforce healthy choices, GHD|EMPHNET collaborated with the Ministry of Health in Iraq and the WHO-EMRO on a project to support enforcing laws for reducing salt intake in the country.
Building on existing evidence, a desk review was conducted related to salt intake laws, policies, regulations, and associated strategies, followed by key informant interviews with people working in food control, nutrition centers, NCDs, and health promotion centers. Recommendations for law implementation were then presented at a consultative workshop where stakeholders met to agree on operationalizing these recommendations:
- Developing encouraging policies in coordination with all stakeholders on low salt production and manufacturing of food products containing low salt
- Focusing on social marketing for community awareness
- Strengthening monitoring and evaluation for relevant national programs and interventions
Following this workshop, an action plan was developed. The Ministry will work with GHD|EMPHNET and other stakeholders to advocate for its implementation.