Islamabad: Heartfile, in collaboration with Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH) and Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), participated at the 13th International Public Health Conference held at HSA Islamabad. The event, featuring a scientific session titled “Tackling Non-Communicable Disease Risk Factors” focused on crucial health issues in Pakistan, brought together a panel of experts from government bodies, civil society organizations, and advocacy groups.
Also together with aforementioned partners, Heartfile setup and maintained presence at a stall inside the event venue for increasing networking and the visibility of Heartfile’s past and present work on NCDs alongside partners’ published materials. Heartfile’s documentary films on ,iTFAs, ENDS and ONPs were screened repeatedly.
Heartfile team actively participated in the scientific session. The session explored both Dietary Risk Factors, including industrially produced trans-fatty acids (iTFAs) and sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), and non-Dietary Risk Factor of Tobacco use.
In his keynote address, Dr. Khawaja Masuood Ahmed, National Coordinator for Nutrition & National Fortification Alliance of the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination, provided valuable insights into the milestones achieved and challenges faced in Pakistan’s battle against NCDs and appreciated Heartfile’s valuable contributions to the process referring to Heartfile’s iTFA Situational Analysis in Pakistan and National Action Pan for NCDs (NAP-NCD) for adopting global best practices with regards to iTFAs.
Mr Munawar Hussain, the country coordinator for GHAI in Pakistan, highlighted the NCD dietary risk factor of excessive sugar intake in his talk and demonstrated its linkages with the SSB industry and its products. Mr Munawar presented international best practices at length and the developments thereof particularly the of Front of Pack Labelling (FOPL) policies and standards adopted by various countries.
Mr Sanaullah Ghumman, General Secretary of PANAH gave a detailed chronology of his organization’s direct interactions with parliamentarians to garner political support for NCD related regulations highlighting both the highs and lows of their struggle in this battle.
Dr. Saba Amjad and her team, in their presentation, focused on the non-dietary NCD risk factor of Tobacco. The discussion addressed critical challenges in this domain and presented the latest contextual evidence regarding emerging nicotine-based products, including Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), Heated Tobacco Products (HTPs), and Oral Nicotine Pouches (ONPs) in Pakistan. Their presentation also highlighted the existing gaps in Pakistan’s regulatory framework to address these products and drew from international experiences in combating this emerging threat. Dr. Amjad concluded her address by proposing key policy recommendations and outlining a strategic way forward to effectively tackle the challenges posed by tobacco and related emerging products.
In her closing remarks the chair of the Scientific session Dr Afshan Tahseen Vice president PANAH summed up the discussion and appreciated the work of all organizations. She seconded the speakers’ opinions & policy recommendations and vowed to continue the advocacy work.
Overall, this session provided a pivotal platform for informed discussions, fostering collaboration between experts and stakeholders to strengthen the nation’s efforts in curbing the adverse impact of tobacco on public health and the dietary risk factor of iTFAs and SSBs.