ImagineLaw to improve cardiovascular health in the Philippines improving nutritional standards for government food assistance programs

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ImagineLaw to improve cardiovascular health in the Philippines improving nutritional standards for government food assistance programs

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Competitive LINKS grant awarded to reduce salt and eliminate trans fat content in COVID-19 emergency food packs in the Philippines

June 24, 2021 (Manila, Philippines) – Despite the toll COVID-19 has taken on health around the world, cardiovascular disease remains the world’s leading killer and will cause more than 6 million premature deaths this year. Today, ImagineLaw, Inc. received a grant from Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies, to develop nutritional guidelines limiting the sodium and trans fat content in food assistance provided to Filipino households as COVID-19 relief. ImagineLaw will conduct legal assessments and research on existing food procurement policies and make recommendations on nutritional standards for all government procured food, including COVID-19 relief food packs provided in government assistance programs at the national and local level.

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“The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated existing issues of public health and food security for many families dependent on government assistance,” said Mary Grace Anne Rosales-Sto. Domingo, Project Manager of ImagineLaw, Inc. “This grant is an opportunity to meet both of these needs – by establishing nutritional standards that restrict sodium and trans fat content in government procured foods, we can ensure that families whose food security has been impacted by the pandemic can access nutritious food that also benefits their cardiovascular health.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many families in the Philippines have become more reliant on food packs distributed by government assistance programs.  ImagineLaw will work with the Department of Health (DOH), National Nutrition Council (NNC), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Social and Welfare Development (DSWD) to develop national policy that will require government assistance programs that distribute food to meet nutritional criteria. The new nutritional guidelines will allow all the beneficiaries of government food assistance to have access to heart-healthy foods that are low in sodium and free from trans fat.

Healthy public food procurement and service policies set nutrition criteria for food served and sold in public settings, including government food assistance programs.  ImagineLaw has successfully implemented public food procurement policies in Quezon City that follow World Health Organization recommendations, including low sodium content and zero trans fats.

Reduced sodium intake can lower high blood pressure, a leading cause of heart attack and stroke, and eliminating trans fat can reduce heart attacks, decreasing preventable deaths from cardiovascular disease.

Resolve to Save Lives announced awards totaling more than US$1.1 million to improve cardiovascular health around the world, including addressing risk factors heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic. ImagineLaw, Inc. joins LINKS grant awardees in El Salvador, Costa Rica, Cameroon, Ghana, Guatemala, Kenya and Mexico.

“COVID-19 has revealed vulnerabilities in our health systems and highlighted existing barriers to reducing cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Jennifer Cohn, Senior Vice President for 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 resilient to future epidemics.”

The highly competitive grant program, part of the LINKS platform that connects people working to improve cardiovascular health around the world, is funded by Resolve to Save Lives with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies. 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 one-time 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 and live webinars. (PR)

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