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Vital Stories

A Clear Message in Ouagadougou: Cut Out Sugary Drinks to Prevent Disease

A new billboard campaign in the West African city of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso features a photograph of a 47-year-old woman with diabetes named Kadi, whose legs have been amputated below the knee. She reveals: “I thought sugary drinks gave me energy to walk. Now I can’t walk at all.”

Billboard in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

The message is part of a new campaign officially launched by Ouagadougou Mayor Armand Roland Pierre Béouindéin late December as part of a citywide effort to reduce noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). The campaign, supported by the Partnership for Healthy Cities, is adapted from a successful Partnership-supported campaign run in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2018. It includes radio and television ads that aired the next day with stories of other city dwellers suffering the devastating effects of NCDs related to excess sugar consumption. The message is clear: heavy consumption of sugary drinks is harmful to human health. 

The campaign is in response to a dramatic shift in the kinds of diseases that are compromising the health of the Burkinabe population. There has been a spike in the national stroke rate, just one of numerous NCD crises facing Burkina Faso. The World Health Organization (WHO) expects the African continent to have the largest proportional increase (90.5%) in the number of adult diabetics by 2030, as junk food and sugary drinks become more available and affordable and health education often remains limited. Poor nutrition and obesity also increase the risk of cancer, heart disease and associated premature death. 

The new Ouagadougou campaign is the city’s first effort to inform the public about the connection between eating, drinking and NCDs, starting with a focus on sugary drinks. The broadcasts and billboards follow the city’s adoption last year of its first-ever nutritional standards, soon to be implemented in schools and hospitals. 

Mayor Armand Roland Pierre Béouindé and students
Mayor Armand Roland Pierre Béouindé spoke to reporters at the launch, and high school students held up a campaign poster featuring a person with heart disease.

About the Partnership for Healthy Cities

The Partnership for Healthy Cities is a prestigious global network of cities committed to saving lives by fighting noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and injuries. Supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Vital Strategies, this initiative enables cities around the world to implement a high-impact policy or programmatic intervention to reduce risk in their communities. 

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