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Turkmenistan: monitoring salt iodization and flour fortification

© UNICEF/SWZK00818/Pirozzi
Iodised salt is now available to every household in Turkmenistan. Next target: flour fortification.

Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, 18 October, 2005 – UNICEF and the Turkmenistan Ministry of Health are holding a three-day workshop on monitoring and evaluating the country's salt iodisation and flour fortification.

With support from USAID, the workshop aims to develop a monitoring system for all flour produced in Turkmenistan to ensure that it is fortified with iron and folic acid, and for all salt to ensure that universal salt iodisation is maintained. The workshop also aimms to strengthen monitoring systems for both flour and salt to include folic acid and other essential micronutrients.

Workshop participants have come from almost every flour mill in Turkmenistan, from the salt industry in Guvlyduz, the sanitary epidemiological stations, the Ministry of Health and Medical Industry, Ministry of Trade, Bread Association “Gallaonumleri” and the joint-stock company “Turkmendokum”. Participants are optimistic that they will be able to tackle micronutrient deficiencies in Turkmenistan through regular monitoring of the flour mills and the salt industry. They are convinced that, with government support, iron deficiency anaemia, iodine deficiency disorders, and other mineral and vitamin deficiencies will soon be consigned to the history books.

“We have been successfully working with UNICEF since 1994 when the Presidential decree on flour fortification and salt iodization was issued," said Mr Annamurat Orazov, Deputy Head of the Sanitary Epidemiological Service of Turkmenistan. "Jointly we were able to set quality control systems for monitoring of salt iodization and we also have been extensively working to strengthen monitoring and quality assurance systems for flour fortification. This workshop lets us propose a plan of action to promote the sustainability of monitoring to reduce iodine deficiency in Turkmenistan. 

The Government of Turkmenistan reached a significant milestone in 2004  -- the elimination of iodine deficiency disorders -- the first country in Central Asia to achieve this goal. Today, 100% of households in Turkmenistan have access to adequately iodized salt, paving the way for the fortification of all flour produced in the country with iron, folic acid, and other vitamins.

“Adding folic acid in flour to reduce birth defects and provide additional health benefits for population has now become a standard practice in over 50 countries, since it has proven so effective," said Peter Ranum, international consultant on flour fortification. "Turkmenistan is also considering expanding fortification to all flour mills to include premium as well as the first grade flour it is currently fortifying. This country is a leader in the region in effectively fortifying most of the flour and bread consumed and can show even greater leadership with the proposed expansion.” 

“The Government of Turkmenistan is making the wisest investment in embarking on the intervention to eliminate vitamin and mineral deficiencies through flour fortification and salt iodization," said John Egbuta, UNICEF Regional Project Officer for Micronutrients Deficiency Control. It is an investment that would guarantee the survival of Turkmenistan children that are yet unborn,” said John Egbuta, UNICEF Regional Project Officer for Micronutrients Deficiency Control.

The workshop took place with the full cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and proved to be another constructive outcome of the joint collaboration between the Government of Turkmenistan and the United Nations Children’s Fund. UNICEF remains committed to working with the government to help fulfil its national priorities and international obligations covering children’s rights.

For more information

Gulyalek Soltanova, UNICEF Communication Officer, Tel: (+99312) 425681 /82, email: gsoltanova@unicef.org

 

 
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