Welcome to Moldovan delegation, by Shahnaz Kianian-Firouzgar, Deputy Regional Director, CEE/CIS.
UNICEF invited seven delegates from the Republic of Moldova to visit Swiss food factories and learn from their experience of using iodized salt in food production. Shahnaz Kianian-Firouzgar, Deputy Regional Director, CEE/CIS, came to welcome them in Geneva.
I am very pleased that such an inter-sectoral group has come to look at the experience of Switzerland and learn about what has been done and achieved in this country which suffered from iodine deficiency disorders a century ago. I am also very pleased to see our colleague from WHO, Dr. Bruno De Benoist, because elimination of Iodine Deficiency (IID) through universal salt iodization (USI) for human and animal consumption is a goal that the World Health Assembly- with the full partnership of UNICEF- has endorsed and adopted for the past few years.
In 2002, only 20 per cent of the population in our region of Central and Eastern Europe and the Common Welath of Independent States was consuming Iodized Salt. We are pleased that now six countries have eliminated IDD. We also have a second group of countries that have not yet fully achieved USI, especially in processed food. Moldova, which has legislation in place, falls into that category.
There is a third group of countries such as the Russian Federation and Ukraine, which do not have legislation for USI, and where the challenge is even greater.
Next year, at the UN General Assembly, there will be a to review of the progress that all countries around the world have made in building a World Fit for Children, the outcome document adopted in 2002 by the United Nations Special Session on Children. Progress towards USI will be reviewed and we hope that by then, most countries will have adopted USI. UNICEF has great hopes that Moldova will be one of them.
I wish the delegation a very good visit and hope that this study tour on Swiss experience will provide you additional insights for accelerated efforts for elimination of iodine deficiency disorders in Moldova.