UNICEF Ambassador calls on the Government of Ukraine to protect children from iodine deficiency disorders
Kyiv, 14 November 2006 - Chess Champion and public activist Anatoly Karpov visited Ukraine today to add his voice to the public campaign urging the Government to fulfil its commitment on eliminating iodine deficiency disorders.
As UNICEF Regional Ambassador for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, Mr. Karpov has made advocating for the elimination of iodine deficiency disorders a priority. While in Ukraine, the UNICEF Ambassador met with President Viktor Yushchenko, the First Lady of Ukraine and a number of political and public leaders to discuss strategies to combat iodine deficiency disorders.
“As your country is the largest supplier of table salt in the region, more than 100 million people will benefit from a decision of the Parliament of Ukraine on universal salt iodisation.” - Anatoly Karpov
Iodine deficiency is recognised as the world's most common cause of brain damage and mental impairment amongst children. In childhood and adolescence, iodine deficiency disorders include retarded physical development, impaired mental development and reduced intellectual performance. According to experts, some 274,000 babies born each year in Ukraine are at risk of mental retardation as a result of iodine deficiency, while the majority of school age children are iodine deficient. Lack of iodine causes a reduction in IQ by as much as 15 per cent, seriously undermining the intellectual capacity of the entire country.
UNICEF is calling on parliamentarians to pass a law to iodise all salt for human consumption and therefore both protect all newborns from brain damage due to iodine deficiency and reduce the risk of thyroid cancer.
The human body requires less than a teaspoon of iodine throughout a lifetime to combat iodine deficiency, through minute amounts added to the diet. This is most efficiently done - and at low cost - by iodising all salt consumed by humans and animals. UNICEF is urging the Government of Ukraine to adopt the strategy of universal salt iodisation because salt is a common food consumed by everybody on a daily basis as apart of their diet and salt consumption is not related to the economic or social status of the consumer. Iodised salt is the most cost effective, safe, efficient and sustainable method to introduce iodine into the diet.
“Ukraine is the key country for the elimination of iodine deficiency disorders in the entire region of Central and Eastern Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States,” said Anatoly Karpov. “As your country is the largest supplier of table salt in the region, more than 100 million people will benefit from a decision of the Parliament of Ukraine on universal salt iodisation.”
The elimination of iodine deficiency disorders through universal salt iodisation is globally recognised as one of the most cost effective means to contribute to economic and social development. Future generations of Ukraine are at stake.
The Government of Ukraine had committed itself to eliminate iodine deficiency by 2005 through the endorsement of the 2002 UN General Assembly Special Session on Children Outcome Document entitled A World Fit For Children.
Dmytro Konyk, Communication Officer, UNICEF Ukraine
Anna Sukhodolska, Communication Assistant, UNICEF Ukraine