Subtitle: Competitive grant awarded to accelerate a best-practice trans fat elimination policy
August 2, 2021 (Bujumbura , Burundi) – Today, Village Health Action (VHA) received a grant from Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies, to advocate for policy action that will eliminate trans fat, a harmful additive, from food in Burundi. VHA will conduct policy mapping and stakeholder analysis for trans fat elimination, provide technical expertise to Burundi’s Drug and Food Regulatory Authority, and conduct a public awareness campaign on the health risks of trans fat.
“Artificial trans fats remain a danger to everyone in Burundi,” said Dr. Egide Haragirimana, Chairperson of Village Health Action. “We are creating evidence on trans fats and establishing a multistakeholder forum to advocate for trans fat elimination—we will continue to pursue this work until trans fats are eliminated completely from our country.”
As part of the six-month project, VHA will work with key stakeholders, including parliament members, the Ministry of Health, Trade and Agriculture and Burundi’s Drug and Food Regulatory Authority to support policies that eliminate trans fat. VHA will also organize a public awareness campaign in Kirundi and French that will be promoted on social media and broadcast over traditional media on radio and television. This campaign is targeted at adults ages 15-55, and aims to educate them on the harms of artificial trans fat and to raise support for a best-practice trans fat elimination policy.
In Burundi, the government has not yet made a national commitment or passed a policy to regulate trans fat. This project is an important first step to creating the groundwork for policy changes that will protect generations of Burundians from the harms of trans fat.
Consumption of industrially produced trans fat, which can be found in cakes, cookies, biscuits, packaged foods, cooking oils and spreads, is linked to over half a million deaths globally each year. To date, 42 countries have successfully protected their people by adopting best-practice trans fat elimination policies. In 2018, the World Health Organization called for the global elimination of trans fat by 2023 and released the REPLACE action package.
“There is no level of trans fat consumption that is safe for any person,” said Dr. Laura Cobb, Director of Nutrition and Surveillance of Resolve to Save Lives. “Village Health Action is engaging in critical, lifesaving action to engage with local policymakers and health officials to effectively eliminate trans fat from Burundi.”
Eliminating industrially produced trans fat from the global food supply could save more than 17 million lives over the next 25 years and prevent at least twice as many heart attacks. With support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Resolve to Save Lives has previously sponsored trans fat elimination advocacy efforts through its LINKS Community Grant Program, and currently supports the implementation of the REPLACE action package in over 30 countries.
Village Health Action joins two other grantees from this award cycle in this lifesaving work (see below for project descriptions). All grantees will support national governments to adopt best-practice trans fat elimination policies that will save lives, save costs, promote health equity and build regulatory systems that can improve food safety overall.
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 U.S. 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.