UNICEF in action
UNICEF advocates at the highest level to generate political will for the fight against ID. UNICEF is a key player in the Regional ID elimination strategy. We inform the public, salt producers and decision-makers about the importance of Universal Salt Iodization, providing information on the national cost of inaction. We advocate for mandatory legislation, enforcement of legislation and continuous monitoring.
UNICEF Regional Goodwill Ambassador, world champion chess player Anatoly Karpov, takes a deep interest in ID and its impact on intellectual development. He meets leaders in our region, urging them to support universal salt iodisation, with good results to date in Kazakhstan and a promising outlook in the Russian Federation and Ukraine.
We assess progress, to see how far we have come towards the USI goal, and how far we still have to go. We have worked with Johns Hopkins University on a review of ID communication activities in nine countries to see if the message is getting through. And in Azerbaijan, Kyrgyz Republic and Uzbekistan we provide iodised salt test kits for schools.
Tackling ID in UkraineID is a major issue in Ukraine, where soil lacks iodine and only 30% of people consume iodised salt. In 2002, UNICEF and its partners launched a campaign to stimulate demand for iodised salt. Highlights included a meeting between UNICEF Regional Goodwill Ambassador Anatoly Karpov and the President of Ukraine, resulting in a personal commitment from the President in favour of USI. The campaign also featured a National Opinion Poll on ID awareness and iodised salt consumption and a media contest generating 500 stories on ID. As a result of UNICEF training sessions, school lessons and parents meetings in one oblast, Kharkiv, sales of iodised salt have risen from 5% of salt sales in 2002 to almost 25% today. Meanwhile, Ukraine is still waiting for its decree on salt iodisation.
Six million children in Uzbekistan tested their household salt for iodine on 16 December 2003, using kits provided by UNICEF. Children aged 10-17 brought salt from their homes to school and were shown how to use the iodine test kits: put a drop of special fluid on the salt. If the salt contains iodine, the drop turns dark blue. The event provided vital national information on salt iodisation. Teachers monitored how many samples contained iodine and how many did not. The results, collected and collated by the Ministry of Public Education, varied from oblast to oblast: from 33% in Navoi to 88% in Surkhandarya, rising to 97% in the capital, Tashkent. The results showed a national average of 55% -- good progress since 2000 when the average was 19%. With 45% of salt still lacking iodine, Uzbekistan now knows how far it must go to reach USI by 2005.
Iodine Deficiency in CEE/CIS:
The proof of the pudding…
Background note: UNICEF response to the Chernobyl disaster