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Below is a summary of the April 2019 ASC newsletter. For further information, please view the original newsletter here

Overall Progress

UK-Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) Visit to China

In early November 2018, a team of 5 from DHSC for Global Health Research visited ASC partners at the George Institute for Global Health in China, to discuss the program including: progress, outputs, financial management and challenges. The DHSC team gave positive feedback on the program as well as advice and suggestions, which was well received by the ASC team – they hoped more collaborations could be built in the UK in the future.

2018 ASC Annual Meeting

On the 5-8 December 2018, ASC Annual Meeting was held in Shijiazhuang city whereby 100 plus participants from ASC partners gathered. Presentations and discussions, on topics such as implementation experiences, and trainings sessions occurred. As well as a field visit to a local restaurant which has piloted the salt reduction study. One training session that made great contribution, was centred on finance and covered key topics such as fund management regulation and discussed the challenges faced in practical situations. The meeting summarised the program experience and built capacities and capabilities for ASC partners.

Implementation of Salt Reduction Interventions

All intervention materials have been distributed to study sites, by the end of March 2019 all training and baseline surveys have been conducted in the sites. 2019 will be a critical year for salt reduction implementation, some good practices are already occurring in the early intervention phase such as: identifying roles and responsibility of government sectors to implement reduction activities at different settings and artistic competitions based around salt reduction knowledge and key public messages.

First Supervision Visit in March 2019

The purpose of the visits were to comprehend the implementation progress and provide effective support to intervention activities. The visits enabled the supervision team to review project documents, oversee training workshops, address issues and challenges, such as some counties and districts struggle with fund management capacity, and ensured specific feedback was given for necessary improvements.

Media Campaign during World Salt Awareness Week

ASC partners launched a broad media campaign to warn the public about the hidden salt in food, including messages such as asking for less salt when eating out. A number of large online influences and local CDCs retweeted the messages, which created the supportive environment of “Less Salt, More Health” in the whole of China.

WeChat – “Salt and Health” Online

WeChat account was officially launched, which is aimed to publicise salt knowledge and the health impacts, share skills and tools for reduction in daily life; and share local innovations and China’s salt reduction models. Information such as WASH’s most recent report on high salt levels in children’s out of home meals and why there is a need for high salt warnings on children’s menus, is found through WeChat.

Updates from Each Partners

Health Education Materials

Chinese Centre for Health Education (CCHE) has completed the designs and development of the health education resources. Ms. Sun Qian, a popular young actress, has taken on the role of ASC ambassador and will participate in the digital media. All media materials have been distributed and placed in study sites and settings to support the four RCTs. 

Information Management System

Beihang University has strengthened and improved the data management, checking and exporting function and continued support for the RIS baseline survey and intervention implementation for the other three RCTs.

The RCTs

Comprehensive Intervention Study (CIS)

CIS, led by NCD Center of China CDC, has completed the baseline survey and undergone data checking, there has since been discussions on key issues and all intervention sites have now submitted personal intervention work plans. Launch meetings were held in all intervention sites. NCD Center has organized for experts to introduce the intervention packages, which have all been sent to sites. Full intervention has been launched by the end of March.

AppSalt-based Intervention Study (AIS)

The interventions are within 27 primary schools and will last for 1 year, involving 1,100 households. So far, 10 online courses for student and parent education on salt reduction are completed, as well as numerous offline activities, for example art competitions, competitions for student models and parent’s meetings.

Household Intervention Study (HIS)

HIS has completed the trainings and baseline survey, has finalized data checking and cleaning. Intervention activities have been carried out in the provinces, with full implementation by the end of March.

Restaurant Intervention Study (RIS) and Food Industry’s Action

A training workshop for RIS was attended by over 50 participants from many study sites and provinces. The training workshop included aspects such as dish sampling as well as demonstrating salt reduction practices in the hotel’s restaurant. Post training workshops, have started recruiting restaurants and reporting information for the baseline survey, and from January 2019, provincial trainings have been conducted and the survey started. By April the survey will be complete and the intervention phase will begin.

The Tourist Institute of Sichuan Province has conducted the salt reduction experiment, balancing customer needs and salt reduction without affecting dish taste; all will provide great evidence for chef training afterwards. They have also organised people of different culinary expertise to develop a chef training course. Early March, the team held a workshop to finish the training course which will be produced in mid-March of 2019, and the training PPTs and videos will be finished by the beginning of April.

Improving Nutrition Labelling for Pre-packaged Food

The national center for food safety risk assessment has made lots of efforts to improve nutrition labelling through promoting “front of package” for the nutrition labelling to declare “high salt” international requirements, to attend the seminar on “salt reduction guideline for food industry”, and to compile a handbook clarifying knowledge on food labelling.

Next Steps

Each of the RCTs salt reduction packages will be implemented in the six provinces, during the intervention phase there will be regular supervision visits. In June 2019, it is planned there will be a capacity building workshop and lastly, an international forum – planned to occur in August – September time – will allow ASC to share the experience and strategies on salt reduction.

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