Global Newsmaker: Charanjit Jagait

The World Heart Federation created World Heart Day back in 2000, this year sees its 10th anniversary celebrated on 26 September.

Charanjit Jagait
Charanjit Jagait
Charanjit Jagait, director of communications for the federation talks to PRWeek about raising awareness for the world's only global body dedicated to leading the fight against heart disease and stroke.

The World Heart Federation is the world's only global body dedicated to leading the fight against heart disease and stroke. What is your PR strategy to raise awareness of the issue globally?

World Heart Day was created to inform people around the globe that heart disease and stroke are the world’s leading cause of death, claiming 17.1 million lives each year. Global health awareness days have long been utilised as a way of drawing attention to a particular health issue, and communicating a need for health improvement; the World Heart Federation is proud to use this 10-year milestone to encourage people to take responsibility for their own health and implement steps to help them live a heart-healthy lifestyle.  

How important the World Heart Day event in raising global awareness?

World Heart Day is a global campaign, and is an extremely important event to raise awareness that the majority of premature deaths from heart disease and stroke could be avoided if risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity, are controlled. The World Heart Federation is dedicated to leading the global fight against heart disease and stroke via a united community of more than 200 member organisations, and this year World Heart Federation Members such as Heart Foundations or Societies of Cardiology are organizing World Heart Day activities in hundreds of different countries and communities. As such, World Heart Day provides an extraordinary opportunity to motivate people all over the world to share heart-healthy messages and to take steps to act on their heart health. The theme of this year’s World Heart Day is workplace wellness; as many of us spend over half of our waking hours at work, the workplace is the ideal setting to encourage behaviour changes to minimise a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease. We are encouraging employers and employees globally to promote a heart-healthy workplace by adopting workplace-wellness programmes such as the promotion of physical activity via gym memberships or cycle to work schemes.

How has digital and social media tools transformed the way you run campaigns?

Digital and social media are important tools in healthcare education. The World Heart Federation is this year encouraging people to follow World Heart Day on Twitter, and to join celebrations via Facebook.

People around the world are also encouraged to share their World Heart Day activities on the World Heart Federation website and YouTube channel. Digital and social media tools are a particularly important communication method for this year’s workplace-wellness theme, since so many people spend their working day at a computer. We will be posting daily tweets in the run-up to World Heart Day, and hope that people online will be encouraged to adopt a heart-healthy behavior within their workplace – for example, doing some desk side exercise or taking the stairs instead of the lift.

Aside from World Heart Day, how will the federation continue to raise awareness throughout the year?

To celebrate the achievements made in the fight for cardiovascular health over the past decade, and to mark the 10-year anniversary of World Heart Day, the World Heart Federation has created a first of its kind report on cardiovascular disease. The content of the report, entitled ‘State of the Heart’, was identified by an expert panel of representatives. The report commemorates progress made in heart health over the past ten years, whilst identifying challenges for the decade ahead, and urging governments, healthcare professionals, employers and individuals to continue to take steps to reduce the burden of heart disease and stroke; it will be made available for download on the World Heart Federation website and will be printed for distribution at congresses and provides a longitudinal method of raising awareness of the importance of heart-health.

In addition to our World Heart Day activity, the World Heart Federation will continue to work with its 200 members on ongoing campaigns to encourage heart-healthy lives.  The World Heart Federation also publishes two scientific journals, organizes a biennial World Congress of Cardiology, and continues to strengthen partnerships with other international health advocacy nongovernmental organizations via collaborative activity. Working with our members and partners, our ongoing campaigns include elevating non-communicable diseases on the global health and development agenda, educating women about heart disease and stroke, and continuing to encourage heart health in the workplace.  

What are your media must-haves, digital/print?

The World Heart Federation aims to raise awareness of cardiovascular disease worldwide, with a focus on low- and middle-income countries where heart disease and stroke are increasing at an alarming rate. We work through our PR agency Weber Shandwick London, to ensure we actively engage with a wide variety of international outlets, including news, trade and consumer media. We also work with our members to assist their media activity at a local or regional level.

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