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Press release

Resolve to Save Lives awards over $1 million in grants to improve cardiovascular health during COVID-19 pandemic

New York, USA - June 24, 2021

9 programs will save lives by improving cardiovascular health

June 24, 2021 (New York, NY)—Despite the toll COVID-19 has taken on health around the world, cardiovascular disease remains the world’s leading killer—it will cause more than 6 million premature deaths this year. Today, Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies, announced awards totaling more than US$1.1 million to improve cardiovascular health around the world. Awardees in Cameroon, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Kenya, Mexico and the Philippines will support new primary care strategies to control hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, advance trans fat elimination policy, and support sodium reduction.

Funded programs include a nurse-led high blood pressure initiative in Ghana, a collaboration between government and consumer group stakeholders to develop a trans fat elimination policy in Cameroon, and promoting front-of-package warning labels to lower sodium intake in Costa Rica, Guatemala and El Salvador. ImagineLaw, a non-profit organization in the Philippines, will address unique challenges to providing care for cardiovascular health brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic by limiting the sodium and trans fat content in COVID-19 food packs provided to Filipino households reliant on government food assistance.

“COVID-19 has revealed vulnerabilities in our health systems and highlighted existing barriers to reducing cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Jennifer Cohn, Senior Vice President Cardiovascular Health of Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies. “These LINKS grantees are engaging in critical, lifesaving work to manage hypertension, eliminate trans fats and reduce sodium. By improving cardiovascular health, they will save lives and help build populations who are resilient to future epidemics.”

The highly competitive grant program, funded by Resolve to Save Lives with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, and managed by Resolve along with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through the CDC Foundation, is part of the LINKS platform that connects people working to improve cardiovascular health around the world. This is the third round of LINKS grants, following two previous grant cycles in March 2019 and November 2019.

LINKS membership is free and members are eligible to apply for grants to improve cardiovascular health in their communities using one of three proven, effective approaches to improving heart health: increasing control of high blood pressure, reducing salt intake or eliminating trans fat. LINKS also provides members access to technical assistance from cardiovascular health experts from around the world, networking opportunities, useful tools for cardiovascular health care and live webinars.

2021 Grant Recipients and Projects:

El Salvador, Guatemala and Costa Rica: Centro para la Defensa del Consumidor

This project will promote salt reduction through the promotion of front-of-pack labeling (FOPL) in Costa Rica, Guatemala and El Salvador by mapping the political and regulatory environment, tracking consumer response to FOPL, organizing and strengthening civil society coalitions and planning an advocacy campaign for policy change.

Cameroon: Reconciliation and Development Association (RADA)

RADA will support FOPL legislation by conducting a salt content and food labelling analysis on common local and imported packaged food products in Cameroon.

Ghana: Institute of Leadership and Development (INSLA)

INSLA will conduct advocacy campaigns, including media outreach and public events, to advance Ghana’s national commitment to trans fat elimination by 2023.

Cameroon: Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services

This project will support policy to eliminate trans fat in Cameroonian diets through data collection on TFA content in diets and oils through a population-based survey, developing an advocacy strategy, and convening a technical working group with key stakeholders.

Mexico: Compañeros en Salud Mexico A.C. (CES)/Partners in Health (PIH)

This project will expand access to hypertension care in Chiapas, Mexico by integrating task-shifting into hypertension screening, monitoring and management protocols.

Ghana: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

In partnership with the Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) program, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai will increase task sharing through implementing a new Task-Strengthening Strategy for Hypertension (TASSH) protocol to improve hypertension treatment, based on the WHO HEARTS technical package, in Ghana’s national nurse-led primary care system.

Kenya: PATH

PATH will use an integrated service delivery model to screen and provide care for HIV patients with hypertension in Kenya.

Guatemala: Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP)

INCAP will promote community-based, patient-centered strategies, including social accountability interventions, municipal pharmacies with low-cost medications and digital task sharing tools, to improve hypertension control in rural Guatemala.

Philippines: ImagineLaw, Inc.

This project aims to limit consumption of processed foods high in sodium and trans fat during the COVID-19 pandemic by developing a food policy to ensure adherence with nutrition guidelines in government food assistance.

Media Contact:

Steven Chlapecka, Resolve to Save Lives: schlapecka@resolvetosavelives.org,+1.917.623.0246

Erin Sykes, Resolve to Save Lives: esykes@resolvetosavelives.org; +1.646.612.0001

Christina Honeysett, Vital Strategies: choneysett@vitalstrategies.org; +1.914.424.3356

About Resolve to Save Lives

Resolve to Save Lives is an initiative of the global health organization Vital Strategies focused on preventing 100 million deaths from heart disease and making the world safer from epidemics. It is led by Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To find out more visit: https://www.resolvetosavelives.org or Twitter @ResolveTSL.

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. We work with governments and civil society in 73 countries to design and implement evidence-based strategies that tackle their most pressing public health problems. Our goal is to see governments adopt promising interventions at scale as rapidly as possible.

To find out more, please visit www.vitalstrategies.org or Twitter @VitalStrat.