The non-governmental Organisation (NGO), will be commemorating its 42-year legacy with an event at the Artscape Theatre Centre in Cape Town, together with the launch of its emotive, nationwide campaign celebrating 42 Years of Heart and Brain Health.
Fondly identified by its recognisable Heart Mark, the foundation has played a leading role in fighting preventable heart disease, strokes and the associated risk factors, while also significantly reducing premature deaths and disabilities in South Africa.
Summarising the social impact of HSFSA has had on countless families is a nearly impossible feat, as it changed the lives of many during the past 42 years and has no plans to slow down the work any time soon.
“This is a monumental occasion for the NGO. For the past 42 years, HSFSA has been advocating for health and wellness with passion, science, good governance and human-centricity, and we need to celebrate these achievements which inspire us to continue our important work,” explains HSFSA Chief Executive, Professor Pamela Naidoo.
Mobilising everyday South Africans to live healthier lives
Most recognisable through its iconic red and white Heart Mark, which features on labels of over 450 consumer products across 11 food categories, HSFSA has always advocated for the importance of making healthy food choices each day. The non-governmental organisation serves as an essential bridge linking the country’s health sector with food manufacturers in efforts to improve health in South Africa’s diverse communities. Backed by science, HSFSA firmly believes that behaviour change can stem the rising toll of heart disease and strokes in South Africa.
Partnering with Government, HSFSA has played an important role in influencing policy and legislative changes the through its advocacy for reducing salt, sugar and “bad fat” content in processed foods. HSFSA also stands with the health sector in its efforts to discourage tobacco use and to appeal to South Africans to drink alcohol responsibly to make our communities healthier.
Western Cape Minister of Health and Wellness, Doctor Nomafrench Mbombo notes, “The burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in South Africa has seen a significant increase in recent years. This ongoing rise has been attributed to four lifestyle risk factors, namely poor diet, lack of physical activity, tobacco use and the inappropriate use of alcohol.
“All these factors are preventable. Through its ground-breaking Heart Mark and management of the Diabetes South Africa Endorsement programme, the HSFSA is making it easier for South Africans to improve their nutrition knowledge and make healthy eating choices.”
42 true stories to mark 42 years
Central to HSFSA’s new 42 Years of Heart and Brain Health campaign are the 42 South Africans telling their stories. HSFSA’s website will share these real-life narratives from NCD survivors, patients, their loved ones, and long-standing partners and staff. It’s a heartfelt legacy tapestry of endurance, highlighting the importance of health lifestyles, self-care and finding personal growth and fulfilment in a healthier lifestyle.
“Too often, we tell ourselves ‘I know I need to make a healthy change, but I’ll do it tomorrow’. The survivors of a stroke or a heart event have experienced that moment of realisation that maybe tomorrow may never come for them. Their stories are important to hear so that we better understand that every choice we make each day to eat healthily or go for a walk, to not smoke a cigarette or say no a second glass of wine, is a choice that actively protects our brain and our heart,” explains Professor Naidoo.
“While NCDs is the leading cause of death globally, South Africa carries a particularly weighty burden. So much suffering and loss, and so many deaths can be prevented through embracing healthy lifestyles, our mission at HSFSA is to halt the rise of these premature deaths and to continue to educate, inspire and inform South Africans for the next 42 years to make healthy choices,” concludes Professor Naidoo.