Staff Profile: Jacqui Webster

I was appointed as Director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre on Population Salt Reduction at the George Institute in 2013. I remain committed to supporting countries around the world to meet the global salt reduction targets and am constantly inspired by the innovative efforts of many countries and communities to reduce population salt intakes.

I grew up on a farm in Yorkshire and am passionate about improving food policy and committed to addressing inequalities in health. Salt has been a major focus for many years now. Having obtained my Masters in Development Studies in 1993, I worked for the UK NGO Sustain for Better Food and Farming from 1994-2000. I was then recruited into the UK government’s Food Standard Agency, where from 2003, I led the team responsible for establishing and implement the UK government’s salt reduction strategy.  This was a fantastic opportunity to work in a progressive government department.  This program successfully reduced population salt intake by 1.5grams in the first few years, which has been estimated to be saving around 9000 lives a year.

I moved to The George Institute for Global Health in Sydney, Australia, in 2007, where I worked with Professor Bruce Neal to establish the Australian Division of World Action on Salt and Health. Having obtained my PhD on public health advocacy and salt in Australia from the University of Sydney in 2011, I’ve since established my own program of research focussed on improving the effectiveness of salt reduction interventions.

I work with the team to implement the pram of work of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre in parallel with this research program and we are involved in projects in many countries and regions including Australia, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Pacific Islands and collaborate closely with the World Hypertension League, Resolve to Save Lives, The Heart Foundation, the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation.

I’m currently supported by an Australian National Heart Foundation Future Leaders Research Fellowship on strengthening advocacy and research impact in relation to food and health policy.