Kathmandu, February 13:

The month of February is being celebrated as iodine month to make people aware of the benefits of using iodised salt to fight against iodine deficiency diseases.

Nepal Salt Trading Corporation Limited (NSTCL), in association with district public health offices, has been organising awareness campaigns throughout the nation. The government has declared February as ‘Iodine Month’ since it became the member of the Universal Salt Iodisation (USI) in 1998 to promote the use of iodised salt.

According to Kumar Raj Bhandari, divisional manager of NSTCL, iodised salt is used in about 120 countries.

According to government standards, 15 ppm iodine is adequate to meet iodine demand in human bodies. He said 77 per cent people were getting adequate amount of iodine through salt while 99.8 per cent were using iodised salt to some extent.

The government has aimed to achieve USI goals by 2010, by making 90 per cent of households get adequate amount of iodine through salt.

He said that they had been campaigning for the promotion of packaged salt with the logo of two children for intake of adequate amount of iodine required for human beings.

“We will disseminate information to the public through students, teachers and consumers about physical and mental weaknesses caused by iodine deficiency,” he added. “Street drama, announcement in public gatherings, quiz contests in schools and rallies will be organised as part of the awareness drive.”

Iodine deficiency survey conducted by the government, assisted by Indian Government in 2007, shows that illegally imported salt along the border areas is a major cause of iodine deficiency among the public in border areas of Nepal.

“Though we have already eradicated external goitre, people living in eastern and central Tarai border areas in Jhapa, Parsa, Rautahat, Bara, which are focus areas of the government, are using cheap salt with low iodine content,” he said. “Currently, UNICEF has been funding social marketing campaign to control such activities and promote use of iodised salt in the border areas.”