Chess champion Teymur Rajabov becomes UNICEF National Ambassador for Azerbaijan
BAKU, 4 May 2006 – Teymur Rajabov, the world-renowned young chess champion, has been appointed UNICEF National Goodwill Ambassador for Azerbaijan. In his new role, Rajabov, who became the youngest international chess grand master in the world, will advocate for the cause of the universal salt iodization in the country.
Iodine deficiency is recognised as the world’s most common cause of brain damage and mental impairment in children. In childhood and adolescence, IDD include goitre, retarded physical development, impaired mental development and impaired intellectual performance.
The main forms of IDD in adults are goitre, hypothyroidism and impaired mental function. The human body requires less than a teaspoon of iodine throughout the lifetime. To combat iodine deficiency, minute amounts of iodine must be added to the diet. This is most efficiently done – and at very low or moderate cost – by iodizing all salt consumed by humans and animals.
Azerbaijan has been making significant progress towards elimination of iodine deficiency disorders (IDD). However, despite such major achievements as adoption of the national law on Universal Salt Iodization in 2003, considerable challenges on ending IDD, such as quality control of iodized salt production, and law enforcement to eradicate the presence of non-iodized salt remain; and the country has committed on achievement of elimination of IDD by the end of 2007.
“The cumulative loss of brainpower is not only a tragedy for the children. Micronutrient deficiencies, including deficiencies in vitamin A, iron and iodine, can lead to a reduction in national economic growth of as much as 5 percent,” UNICEF Representative in Azerbaijan, Hanaa Singer.
“We are very pleased to have Teymur join us in the work to improve the lives of children and young people in Azerbaijan. I am confident that he will become an outspoken and active advocate, using his talent and time to serve as an example and inspiration to young people,” she said.
UNICEF Ambassadors are well-known personalities with strong national appeal willing to do their utmost to mobilize support for children among the general public and within their industry.
Teymur joins a celebrity corps of more than 200 stars of film, music, sport, and literature who have embraced UNICEF through the years: Susan Saradon, Roger Moore, Nicole Kidman, Robbie Williams, Sarah Jessica Parker, Diana Ross, Isabella Rossellini, Phil Collins, Mia Farrow, and many others.
UNICEF works in 156 countries and territories around the world. Its programmes cover education, health, water and sanitation and the protection of children. UNICEF also advocates with governments for inclusive policies, budgets, and programmes to protect and promote the rights of children, and to ensure that children have a voice in their own futures.
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