Anatoly Karpov, World Chess Champion and UNICEF Regional Goodwill Ambassador, pays one-week visit to Kazakhstan
Astana – Almaty, 1-6 September 2005. World Chess Champion and UNICEF Regional Goodwill Ambassador Mr. Anatoly Karpov arrived to Kazakh capital city of Astana late 31 August. It is Mr. Karpov’s second visit to Kazakhstan under the UNICEF auspices. For the whole week of September 1-6, 2005 attention of the nation was drawn to the problem of iodine deficiency disorders and their elimination through Universal Salt Iodization.
Within the framework of the visit Mr. Karpov, who is the UNICEF advocate for Universal Salt Iodization in the CEE, CIS and Baltics region, took part in a series of major events dedicated to discussion of Kazakhstan’s progress in eliminating iodine deficiency disorders and promoting intellectual and physical development of children and youth. Kazakhstan refers to countries with average endemia of iodine deficiency disorders (IDD). 2004 survey supported by UNICEF showed that 86 percent of all households in Kazakhstan consume iodized salt, and this figure shows a major drastic improvement against 29 percent - in just 1999. With support from all clusters of society and with technical and financial assistance from the international organizations like UNICEF and ADB, Kazakhstan is likely to soon achieve the goal for universal salt iodization, at which nationwide iodine deficiency elimination will become possible.
On 1 September the traditional Back-to-School ceremony in Astana school #17 was attended by Mr.Karpov in accompaniment of Kazakh Vice-Minister of Education Mr. Azamat Abdymumonov, Deputy Mayor of Astana Ms. Sabila Mustafina and UNICEF Country Representative Mr. Alexandre Zouev. Most of the children have never heard of Mr. Karpov before, but with their parents they stood in awe and silence once the World Chess Champion congratulated them all and wished straight “A” and “B” marks.
On the same day the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan together with UNICEF 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 iron fortification of flour in the Republic of Kazakhstan. The event chaired by the Minister of Environmental Protection/ Chairperson of the Commission on Family and Women Affairs gathered Deputies of both Chambers of the Parliament, representatives of involved ministries and agencies of the Republic of Kazakhstan, non-government and international organizations. UNICEF Regional Goodwill Ambassador appealed 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”. The Conference was followed with a press conference by the Parliamentarian Tutkushev, Deputy Minister of Health/Chief Sanitary Doctor of Kazakhstan Mr.Belonog, President of the NGOs Confederation Ms. Sivryukova, President of Kazakh Academy of Nutrition Prof. Sharmanov, and UNICEF Representative Mr. Alexandre Zouev, for all major mass media of the country.
Later that day Mr. Karpov attended the ceremony of awarding fifteen talented chess players from Astana and Karaganda cities who managed to withstand the Simultaneous Chess Exhibition against Kazakhstan Champion/ International Chess Grand Master Mr. Darmen Sadvakasov. Participating children were presented UNICEF diplomas signed by Mr. Anatoly Karpov, Mayor of Astana Mr. Umirzak Shukeyev and UNICEF. Children were happy to take pictures with the World Chess Champion himself. Astana Chess Players Alley in the capital’s center was added with a new tree planted by the “12th World Chess Champion and the UNICEF Regional Goodwill Ambassador Anatoly Karpov”.
On 2-3 September UNICEF conducted the Round Table for Parliamentarians and top-ranking government officials in Borovoye area of Akmola oblast (region). The major objective of the Round Table was to sensitize the Government and the Parliament of problems of micronutrient deficiencies in general, and to promote resolution of the next micronutrient issue for Kazakhstan – flour fortification with iron. Iron deficiency anemia 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.
The schedule of Mr. Karpov’s stay in Almaty was also very busy: from an interview for the prime time TV show “Center of Attention” to registration of the National Salt Producers Association, from meetings with officials, chess fans and media, to students and teachers of the International School “MIRAS”, across the entire country flew the message of importance of Universal Salt Iodization. “We are here to help children of Kazakhstan,” – said Mr. Karpov about UNICEF operations and mission at the last press conference in Almaty. These words were cited in almost all media of the country proving once again what a significant role Goodwill Ambassadors play in tackling social problems under the UNICEF umbrella.