Georgia remains among the countries with a high endemic for Iodine Deficiency Disorders. Geographical and environmental factors, such as low iodine content in soil and water, were leading determinants of high iodine deficiency prevalence.
Following a major breakthrough in universal salt iodization in the 1970s, Iodine Deficiency Disorders re-emerged as a national public health concern in the 1990s, resulting from economic and political turmoil and environmental changes. Every single district of Georgia is affected by Iodine Deficiency Disorders.
In 1996, 64 per cent of school children were found to be affected by iodine deficiencies. Goiter prevalence among the regions varied from 54 to 78 per cent. In 1997, UNDP development reports indicated a total loss of 500,000 IQ points among the child population as a direct result of a high prevalence of Iodine deficiency disorders in the country. It was evident that urgent interventions had to be taken for combating the increasing trend of Iodine Deficiency Disorders by effectively reinforcing universal salt iodization.
The situation became critical in 2000, when the Ministry of Health revealed alarming trends in high mountainous regions and remote areas of the country. In 2001-2002, based on an appeal from the Georgian Government, as an emergency intervention, UNICEF supported the distribution of iodized oil capsules among 300,000 children of age 3-16 and pregnant and lactating women in the 35 worst affected districts of the country.