Govt girds up to meet anti-IDD target by year-end

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, January 31:

The government has decided to increase the supply of iodised salt in order to check the Iodine Deficiency Disorders prevailing in the country, Minister for Health Ashok Rai said today.

The step is being taken in view of the greater public demand for iodised salt and also to achieve the target of pushing the Iodine Deficiency Disorders’ prevalence rate to below 5 per cent. “Only by providing iodised salt can Iodine Deficiency Disorders be checked. Hence, the government has adopted a strict policy of providing the demanded amount of iodised salt to consumers and encourage the use of the iodised salt,” said Rai.

Iodine Deficiency Disorders affect an estimated 10 million people, nationwide. Experts say 63 per cent of the country’s population has an adequate intake of iodised salt. The other 37 per cent is in the high-risk group.

The government had aimed to bring down the Iodine Deficiency Disorders prevalence below 5 per cent by the year 2000 in 1990s. Due to various reasons, the goal could not be realised. The ministry now aims to achieve the target by the year 2005.

In this regard, the Child Health Division (CHD) under the Ministry of Health has been observing February as Iodine Deficiency Disorders awareness month since 2004.

The disorder jeopardises children’s mental health and often their lives. Serious disorder during pregnancy may result in stillbirths, abortions and congenital abnormalities. However, of far greater global and economic significance is the less visible, yet more pervasive, risk of mental impairment that dulls intellectual prowess at home, school and work. Rai stressed on the need for mass awareness programme and requested people to use branded iodised salt. He appealed to civil society, health workers and promoters of iodised salt to step up their efforts.

Iodine deficiency disorder hits IQ:

• IDD affects over 740 million people — 13 per cent of the world’s population; 30 per cent of the remainder are at risk.

• IDD preys upon poor, pregnant women and pre-school children, posing serious health problems in 130 developing countries.

• Iodine-deficient people may forfeit 15 IQ points.

• Nearly 50 million people suffer from some degree of IDD-related brain damage.

• We have means to prevent it — small quantities of iodised salt, at low cost.