George Institute honoured with prestigious World Hypertension League Award

The George Institute for Global Health, China has been recognized by the World Hypertension League (WHL) with a 2024 Organizational Excellence Award in Population Global Hypertension Control. The winners were announced on World Hypertension Day (May 17).

The World Hypertension League called for Award applications in January with the World Hypertension Day theme of “Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer.” It aims to generate increased awareness of high blood pressure and the importance of accuracy in blood pressure measurement to control hypertension – a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs), especially in low- and middle-income countries.

“We greatly appreciate WHL’s recognition of The George Institute China for its contribution to the prevention, treatment and control of hypertension at a population level as part of the efforts to reduce rates of hypertension globally. We believe we have the best local expertise in epidemiological and public health research and an extensive global health network, dedicated to controlling hypertension by addressing the leading risk factor – high salt intake – which has achieved remarkable outcomes and impact over the past two decades,” said Ms Yunyun Zhu, Managing Director of The George Institute China.

Professor Puhong Zhang, Associate Director at the Institute, has been leading the research team as principal investigator in a series of high-impact salt reduction programs, such as the Action on Salt China (ASC) in 2017-2022 and Scaling up of the School-Based Education Program to Reduce Salt in China (EduSaltS) in 2019-2024. “Over the years, we have collaborated with a wide range of international partners, such as Queen Mary University of London, World Action On Salt, Sugar and Health (WASSH) as well as many important national partners such as China CDC, Chinese Centre for Health Education and China National Centre for Food Safety Risk Assessment as well as local authorities across China. They have worked with us to develop, implement and evaluate a set of comprehensive salt reduction intervention packages targeted at various populations and settings by conducting a series of well-designed campaigns and randomized controlled trials exploring China’s salt reduction model,” said Professor Puhong Zhang.

With the concerted efforts of all partners, there have been substantial achievements including:

  • the accurate assessment of population salt intake in Chinese adults using the most reliable 24-hour urine collection method;
  • the successful development and evaluation of several salt reduction technical packages targeting primary schools, home cooks and restaurants;
  • a comprehensive review of the nutritional quality of pre-packaged foods in China using various nutrient profile models which proposed maximum sodium targets for different categories of prepackaged foods in China, and
  • the real-world implementation of an mHealth-based school health education system among 308 primary schools with more than 70,000 schoolchildren and their families.

Among these, the school-based salt reduction program has also been recognized as best practice for promoting global health by the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases (GACD) and was featured by BBC Story Works in 2021. In 2023, the Institute led the development of an evidence-based policy paper “Deepening the Action on Salt Reduction in China – CHRPS Strategies” which was submitted to China’s National Health Commission as an important policy contribution towards Healthy China Action 2030 goals.

Professor Fengjun He from Queen Mary University of London has been closely collaborating with the George Institute China on salt reduction programs for the past 20 years and said: “The Institute’s research team has done exceptional work in developing a salt reduction model that is both feasible and scalable. This model is not only applicable to China but is also adaptable for other developing countries where most of the dietary salt is added at home during cooking or in sauces. They have made a significant contribution to reducing salt intake, which will have prevented hundreds of thousands of people from suffering or dying unnecessarily from stroke and heart disease each year in China. Additionally, the model will provide substantial support for global initiatives aimed at reducing salt consumption and, subsequently, greatly enhance global hypertension prevention and control.”

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