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New salt iodisation plant opens in Afghanistan

“Salt of life” factory will produce 40 tonnes of iodised salt per day for Kabul population

KABUL, 26 May 2005 – An eleventh salt iodisation plant in Afghanistan began production on Monday in the Bagrami district of Kabul, with the capacity to generate up to 40 metric tonnes of iodised salt per day for the capital’s population and surrounding provinces.

The new “Namak-e-Zendagi” – or “Salt of Life” – plant, which has been supported by the Afghan Ministry of Public Health and UNICEF and is managed by a private company, will supplement the existing supply of iodised salt within the area. Lack of iodine is a major cause of medical conditions such as goitre and physical stunting, brain damage in newborn babies, as well as impairing intellectual development and educational potential amongst children.

Afghanistan has seen the creation of new iodised salt plants throughout the country since 2003; nationwide, these plants now have the capacity to produce enough salt to meet the population’s requirements. Adding iodine to salt is one of the simplest, cheapest and most effective methods of introducing iodine into the diet, while the costs of iodised salt to the consumer are comparable to the non-iodised product.

The new plant has benefited from US$ 81,000 from UNICEF in the way of start-up support for machinery, generators and staff training. Funding for the national salt iodisation programme has been provided through contributions from the Governments of Japan and the United States. The public-private partnerships underlying the iodised salt industry in Afghanistan are designed to ensure that the sustainability of the plants will lie in the hands of private producers, and not be reliant upon constant donor support. In many parts of the country, salt producers have even formed cooperatives to strengthen the viability of the iodisation industry, and in most cases have contributed up to 50 per cent of the costs of establishing plants.

Earlier in 2005, the Ministry of Public Health and UNICEF launched a national awareness campaign, reminding households of the important health, educational and social benefits of consuming iodised salt, in a country where it is estimated that 70 per cent of women and school age children are iodine deficient.

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For more information, please contact:

Edward Carwardine, Head of Public Information
+93 (0) 796 07400
ecarwardine@unicef.org

Mohammad Rafi, Assistant Communication Officer
+93 (0) 796 07403
mrafi@unicef.org


 

 

 

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