IF South Africa is going to successfully implement National Health Insurance (NHI), South Africans are going to have to put down the salt shaker, Deputy Minister of Health Dr Gwen Ramokgopa says.
High salt intake is associated with conditions like osteoporosis, stomach cancer, kidney disease and even asthma.
The average South African uses more than double the recommended amount of salt daily.
High salt use is one of the major causes of high blood pressure or hypertension, and South Africa is believed to have one of the world’s highest rates of high blood pressure, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa (HSF).
According to HSF, one in three South Africans 15 years and older suffer from high blood pressure, which puts them at risk of the heart attacks and strokes.
Every day, about 370 South Africans will suffer from a heart attack or stroke – putting a huge burden on the health system.
If South Africa is going to achieve universal access to healthcare through the NHI, the country is going to have to do more to prevent illnesses like these, according to Ramokgopa who spoke at a 13 March summit bringing together the Department of Health, civil society and the food industry to discuss strategies to decrease South Africa’s salt use.
“To achieve universal access we need to have fewer, rather than more, people requiring healthcare, hence health promotion.
“Salt-reduction is as cost- effective as tobacco control and has been identified as a priority intervention for non- communicable disease prevention.”
Reducing daily salt intake among South Africans could save the country R300-million annually in hospital admissions for strokes, she added. – Wilma Stassen, Health-e News