World experts in iodine deficiency have set a goal of working toward eliminating iodine deficiency, by assigning top support priority to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
World health officials say that millions of people around the world are deficient in iodine, which causes fetal brain damage. And they are calling on the international community to increase iodized salt to one-third of households in mostly developing countries that do not have access to the micronutrient.
Officials of the Network for Sustained Elimination of Iodine Deficiency met at the United Nations Headquarters, New York on Dec. 12 to mark a major public health advance achieved in two decades. They say that 70 percent of world households now consume iodized salt. But since 2002, they say there's been a significant drop in progress toward fulfilling a mandate of 100 percent coverage.
The result, according to experts, is that nearly two billion people worldwide are at risk of iodine deficienicy and 38 million newborns are unprotected. "Poverty and associated health, nutrition, and social factors prevent at least 200 million children in developing countries from attaining their development potential. Among these factors the estimated impact of iodine deficiency is considered the largest and affects at least 20-25% of children in developing countries," Network Chair Alan Court, Director of the UNICEF Programme Divisio, aid.
"This overwhelming evidence makes prevention of iodine deficiency a high priority which fosters children's development. The good news is that all of these disorders are easily preventable at very low cost ensuring adequate intake of iodine through the addition of a small amount of iodine to salt," he added.
To avoid suffering iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) a human requires in a life time a total just one teaspoon of iodine - this can be added to salt at a cost of about 10 cents worth per year. Experts say that the greatest need for micro amounts of iodine is in the mother's womb.
Hence, the Network for Sustained Elimination of Iodine Deficiency Network said its top priority is to ensure access to iodized salt for the final 30 percent of households that do not have it, most of them found in just 20 countries.
The Network has assigned top priority in 2005-2010 to supporting India, Pakistan and Bangladesh among other countries.
Other countries are: Afghanistan, Angola, Bolivia, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Indonesia, Niger, The Philippines, Russia, Senegal, Sudan, Ukraine, and Vietnam.