The HSFSA uses the health events calendar as a reference point for carrying out campaigns and awareness drives at target groups or at population level. As our mission states: “We intend to halt the rise of premature deaths through cardiovascular disease (CVD) in South Africa and promote the adoption of healthy lifestyles.” Ultimately, we aim to reduce the burden placed on the South African healthcare system by cardiovascular disease.

Our involvement in advocacy work to influence health and fiscal policy development is an exciting journey and our venture into the research space is even more exciting. However, on a day-to-day basis our workstreams go far in reaching our goals:

Health Promotions Programme

The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa’s Health Promotions Programme empowers all South Africans to adopt healthy lifestyles through education and raising awareness of CVD.  CVD is the leading preventable cause of death worldwide, and 80% of CVD can be prevented by lifestyle changes.

The Health Promotion Programmes primary activities are conducting health risk assessments, doing community and corporate talks, running the Mended Hearts groups and engaging in Employee Wellness programmes and public health campaigns.

Nutrition Science Programme

The nutrition science team ensures that all nutritional information that the HSFSA communicates to the public is evidence based, understandable and practical. This responsibility is central to the team’s role in media communications, salt reduction initiatives and food endorsements. The team further supports the health promotion team by regularly presenting talks on health eating to the public and updating educational resources. The team leads certain HSFSA initiatives including the healthy tuck shop programme and the scientific newsletter. The team is further instrumental in building relationships with external partners and communicating with healthcare workers.

Public Relations and Communications Department

The Public Relations and Communications team build and enhances the foundation’s credibility and manages its reputation by consistently getting the best positive exposure for the foundation. This makes Public Relations an integral part of the foundation to manage its image and communication between the HSFSA and the public.

A key role of the PR team is to take some of the most complex health messages and package it to be accessible, understood, retained, and ideally act as a nudge toward changing unhealthy behaviour. Behaviour change is not as simple as that though, nor is it a quick process, therefore we undertake various campaigns and try to give it longevity as ongoing and consistent momentum will contribute to ultimate behaviour change.

Endorsements

The Heart Mark endorsement programme is part of ongoing efforts by the HSFSA to reduce the number of deaths in South Africa from preventable heart disease and stroke. The endorsement programme forms part of a health-enabling environment offering you a tool which makes choosing healthier foods easier.

Foods have to earn the Heart Mark. The Heart Mark may appear on products only after they have gone through a strict process which includes laboratory tests to measure levels of saturated fat, trans fats, sodium, added sugar and fibre content. If the product does not meet certain criteria (e.g. the sodium salt level is too high), this will be discussed with the manufacturer and sometimes products will be reformulated.