BACKGROUND: Most populations are consuming too much salt which is the main contributor of high blood pressure, a leading risk factor of cardiovascular disease and stroke. The South Pacific Office of the World Health Organization has been facilitating the development of salt reduction strategies in Pacific Island Countries and areas (PICs). The objective of this analysis was to review progress to date and identify regional actions needed to support PICs and ensure they achieve the global target to reduce population salt intake by 30% by 2025. METHODS: Relevant available national food, health and non-communicable disease (NCD) plans from all 22 PICs were reviewed. NCD co-ordinators provided updates and relayed experiences through semi-structured interviews. All activities were systematically categorised according to an existing salt reduction framework for the development of salt reduction strategies. RESULTS: Salt reduction consultations had been held in 14 countries and final strategies or action plans developed in nine of these, with drafts available in a further three. Three other countries had integrated salt reduction into NCD strategic plans. Baseline monitoring of salt intake had been undertaken in three countries, salt levels in foods in nine countries and salt knowledge, attitude and behaviour surveys in four countries. Most countries were at early stages of implementation and identified limited resources as a barrier to action. Planned salt reduction strategies included work with food industry or importers, implementing regional salt reduction targets, reducing salt levels in school and hospital meals, behaviour change campaigns, and monitoring and evaluation. CONCLUSIONS: There had been good progress on salt reduction planning in PICs. The need for increased capacity to effectively implement agreed activities, supported by regional standards and the establishment of improved monitoring systems, were identified as important steps to ensure the potential cardiovascular health benefits of salt reduction could be fully realised in the region.
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