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Universal Salt Iodization caravan goes to Ambaji in Gujarat

© UNICEF/India/Gulati/2005
The tableau was stationed for a week at strategic locations in Ambaji.

By Gurinder Gulati

Global Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) Day was observed on 21 October.  Long before this day and a week before the auspicious October full moon, an IDD tableau-caravan arrived in Ambaji, Gujarat, to educate the thousands of pilgrims visiting the Ambaji temple.


More than a million pilgrims visiting Ambaji in the state of Gujarat on the October full moon night to pay obeisance to the goddess Ambaji also stopped by a tableau on Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD). This large gathering of people was an opportunity for UNICEF, in collaboration with the state government, to create awareness on health issues such as IDD, through a Rath Yatra (a travelling caravan). Despite Gujarat being the largest salt producing state in India, there are areas within the state with a high prevalence of goitre, an iodine deficiency disorder. This large gathering of pilgrims provided a good opportunity for educating people about IDD and its prevention through the use of iodized salt.
Despite Gujarat being the largest salt producing state in India, there are areas within the state with a high prevalence of goitre, an iodine deficiency disorder.

The tableau was stationed for a week at strategic locations in Ambaji within easy access of the pilgrim tourists.  According to Jabbarbhai Mansoor, the driver of the truck displaying the tableau on iodized salt, “People in multitudes thronged around the truck and inquired about the reasons for using iodized salt. They were interested in knowing about iodized salt more than anything else, as many had never heard about it.”

People from all walks of life – tribal, rural and urban were visiting Ambaji. Leelaben Bhoya, a tribal woman who had come with her pregnant daughter-in-law said that, “Only today, I came to know that lack of iodine in a pregnant woman’s diet can lead to miscarriage. I will now only purchase iodized salt for use in my house”.

Gagan, a twelve-year-old child from Dholka could not take his eyes off the large model of rising sun - the symbol of iodized salt, displayed in the centre of the tableau. He exclaimed, “This model is so attractive – it prompts you to buy only the salt packets with the symbol of rising sun!”

It was observed that not many people knew about the existence, availability and importance of the use of iodized salt. There is therefore, a need to organize many such campaigns to promote the use of iodized salt. 

 

 

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