A new mass media campaign depicts the dangers of the high-salt diet that is common in Ethiopia.
(Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)—Yesterday the Ethiopian government debuted, “Avoid Food That Is High in Salt (Mok Kalebet),” the country’s first major mass media campaign to dramatically depict the dangers of the high-salt diet that is common in Ethiopia, which is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease and other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). Creating public awareness is a key aspect of the government’s national advocacy effort to reduce salt consumption and prevent unhealthy diets, and will be supported by community-level education efforts. The 45-second mass media campaign will run on national and local radio channels for one month and be featured in social media campaigns supported by various partners.
The campaign was developed by the Ministry of Health of Ethiopia in collaboration with the Ethiopia country office of the World Health Organization, and with support from Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies.
“Noncommunicable disease is a major burden and is believed to have taken the lives of too many Ethiopians,” says Dr. Dereje Duguma, State Minister, Ministry of Health of Ethiopia. “This campaign displays our commitment to lowering salt consumption to prevent unhealthy diets and reduce the burden of noncommunicable disease in our country.”
The average intake of salt in Ethiopia is 8.3 grams per day, far above the World Health Organization’s recommended limit of 5 grams per day, or about one teaspoon. High-salt diets are directly linked to high blood pressure, which can lead to heart attack, kidney failure and stroke. One out of every six adults in Ethiopia has high blood pressure, and an estimated 32% of cardiovascular deaths can be attributed to high salt intake. The primary source of salt consumption in Ethiopia is through salt added during home cooking and from powders such as berbere, mitmita and shiro that typically have high salt content. However, the consumption of packaged and processed foods (which are high in salt) is on the rise and presents a growing threat to Ethiopian diets.
“Excess salt is a primary contributor to cardiovascular deaths in Ethiopia every year,” said Dawit Bisrat, Vital Strategies Country Director, Ethiopia. “Creating public awareness is an important step by the Ethiopian government toward preventing these noncommunicable diseases such as heart attack, stroke and hypertension.”
The campaign’s key messages will be shared by partner organizations on their websites and social media channels, and broadcast on local radio stations and via communal loudspeakers in communities. Community education events, including salt reduction education at local high schools and through health extension workers, are scheduled to support the media campaign.
This campaign is the third of its kind that Resolve to Save Lives has supported, following similar efforts in China and Vietnam, and is part of a broader effort by governments around the world to reduce sodium consumption by using evidence-based communication campaigns.