UNICEF welcomes the adoption of the National Programme to Eliminate Iodine Deficiency Disorders in Moldova
Adoption by the Government of the Republic of Moldova of the National Programme to Eliminate Iodine Deficiency Disorders by 2010 is an important step towards the assurance of health and intellectual development of children, considers UNICEF Moldova.
CHISINAU, 26 February 2007 – The National Programme to Eliminate Iodine Deficiency Disorders by 2010 has been adopted by the Moldovan Government on 21 February 2007 and will come into force from the moment of its publication in Monitorul Oficial (Official Gazette). The adopted programme provides for the exclusive importation of iodized salt into the country starting 1 March 2007, a goal of increased rate of consumption by families of the iodized table salt up to 90% and extending the use of iodized salt in all branches of the food industry starting in 2009.
“Good nutrition is an important part of the development programme of a country: the population becomes healthier, children learn better and have greater achievements in life,” said Svetlana Stefanet, UNICEF Moldova Project Officer. “Better nutrition is of benefit to families, the community and the whole of society,” Stefanet continued.
At present in Moldova over 5,000 babies are born annually with intellectual development impairment caused by a deficiency of iodine in the mothers during pregnancy. This figure comes from the 2006 Damage Assessment Report for Moldova "Vitamin & Mineral Deficiency" by The Micronutrient Initiative and UNICEF.
In the long-term, iodine deficiency may also result in a decrease in adult work capacity. The same Report estimates that decreased adult work productivity and annual losses for Moldova as a consequence of iodine and iron deficiency may be as high as 21.4 million dollars, or 0.7 per cent of GDP.
The result of iodine deficiency is often recognized in its visible or palpable form of goiter. However, the invisible effects of iodine deficiency are much more serious: stunted intellectual development; pregnancy-related risks including miscarriages, congenital malformations, psycho-motor deficiencies in newborns, etc. In the most dramatic cases, a lack of sufficient iodine intake during pregnancy and first years of life may result in developmental disorders and lead to mental retardation and cretinism.
According to the Demographic and Health Survey of 2006 data, only 60 per cent of households in Moldova use adequately iodized salt. The percentage is much smaller in rural localities (49 per cent as compared to 77 per cent of households in urban areas) and in the Southern region where only 44 per cent of households consume iodized salt.
At national level, the 2006 figure is a marked improvement from the year 2000 when only 33 per cent of Moldovan households, including Transnistrian region, consumed adequately iodized salt (Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2000). In 2004, the Ministry of Health and UNICEF conducted a massive communication campaign to promote the daily consumption of iodized salt in food which prompted an important increase in consumption.
For more information please contact:
Violeta Cojocaru, Communication Officer, UNICEF Moldova