National Conference on iodine deficiency elimination and fight against anemia in the Republic of Kazakhstan
World Chess Champion and UNICEF Regional Goodwill Ambassador Anatoly Karpov made an opening appeal to the Conference participants.Astana, 1 September 2005, RIXOS President Hotel. Health Ministry of the Republic of Kazakhstan together with UNICEF Country Office and Kazakh Academy of Nutrition conducted the National Conference dedicated to assessment of the country’s progress towards Universal Salt Iodization for elimination of iodine deficiency disorders, as well as fight against anemia through fortification of flour with iron in the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Deputies of both Chambers of the Parliament, representatives of involved ministries and agencies of the Republic of Kazakhstan, non-government and international organizations (ADB, WHO) were invited to participate in the Conference. UNICEF Kazakhstan Country Office also organized the visit of Mr. Anatoly Karpov, the World Chess Champion and UNICEF Regional Goodwill Ambassador to the country’s capital Astana, to appeal to the Conference participants with the opening speech on importance of salt iodization and his crusade for the noble cause of “health for every child” under the auspices of UNICEF.
Kazakhstan refers to countries with average endemia of iodine deficiency disorders (IDD). It is a known fact that IDD cause excessive damage to intellectual and physical conditions of people residing in areas with even light lack of iodine. Special research established that IQ of each child from such territory is 10-15 points less than of an average child. Since iodine is required during the period of fetus development, consequences for newborns of mothers with iodine deficiency can be irreversible. Pregnant women living in iodine deficient territories face high risk of miscarriages, stillbirths or preterm deliveries. Those newborns who survived may have some or all IDD symptoms, including growth and development impairments, mental deficiency or cretinism.
In their Foreword to the Report “Assessment of Adequacy of Salt Iodization and Consumption in the Republic of Kazakhstan”, which was launched at the National Conference, UNICEF Representative in the Republic of Kazakhstan and President of Kazakh Academy of Nutrition Mr. Toregeldy Sharmanov stated: “For the last years the Republic of Kazakhstan has managed to achieve considerable progress towards USI thanks to effective cooperation between the Government, salt producers, NGO sector and international organizations. The Government has created the most favorable political conditions for salt producers to implement the laws, which envisage nationwide mandatory iodization of all white and fodder salt; international organizations rendered support to salt producers with the relevant production arrangements and iodized salt internal control procedures”.
A 2004 survey showed that 86 percent of all households in Kazakhstan consume iodized salt, and this figure needs to rise up to 90 before Kazakhstan attains the status of the USI country. Proved is the fact that iodine deficiency elimination is only possible once Universal Salt Iodization is ensured nationwide.
Another socially important micronutrient deficiency, which fell under the spotlight of discussions by the Conference participants, was iron deficiency anemia. This problem remains very acute for Kazakhstan: more than one third of the population suffers from anemia; prevalence of iron deficiency among pregnant women and children under five exceeds 50 percent of the total numbers.
In 2003 UNICEF supported analysis of cost-efficiency of implementing the mandatory flour fortification programme in the country based on experience of the nations that introduced mandatory flour fortification. According to this analysis cost-efficiency of mandatory flour fortification with iron and folic acid would amount to more than 155 million US dollars with investment of 15 million within 10 years.
In 2004 the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev signed the Law Concerning Quality and Safety of Food Products. Owing to this Law, Kazakhstan is one of 49 countries, which requires mandatory flour fortification with iron and thus protects physical and mental health of its people, as well as one of 38 countries, which require flour fortification with folic acid, which overall prevents more than 100 congenital malformations per year and decreases the risk of cardiovascular disorders and lethal cases. In addition to the above-mentioned Law in 2005 the Prime-Minister of Kazakhstan has signed the Resolution of the Government Concerning Approval of Rules for Mandatory fortification of extra and first class flour produced on the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan, according to which mandatory fortification of wheat flour shall be in place at all milling enterprises of Kazakhstan by 2008.
All of the above shows the considerable progress Kazakhstan has made in solution of such vital issues as elimination of “latent hunger” and improvement of nation’s health. Realization of these programmes in close collaboration between the Government, salt producers, NGO sector and international organizations, as well as execution of adopted laws will cut maternal, infant and child mortality rates, as well as lethal cases due to cardiovascular disorders.
For additional information, please, contact:
Mr. Raimbek Sissemaliev, Health and Nutrition Officer, UNICEF Kazakhstan