CAIRO, September 28, 2005 -- Efforts to end the scourge of iodine deficiency disorder (IDD) among Egyptian children are the focus of a workshop in Cairo this week organized jointly by the Ministry of Health and Population (MOHP) and UNICEF Egypt.
Iodine deficiency is the single most important preventable cause of brain damage among children. Its prevalence in Egypt is not known.
Delegates attending the three-day meeting heard that Egypt is making good progress in ensuring all households have access to iodized salt. Since the mid-1990s, universal salt iodization (USI) has been seen as the most cost-effective, sustainable and safe strategy to ensure sufficient consumption of iodine by all individuals.
In her opening remarks, Dr. Esmat Mansour, Head of Integrated Health Care and Nursing at MOHP, said that while the trend was extremely positive in tackling the issue of IDD in Egypt, more effort was required to ensure quality control of iodized salt and to monitor its consumption, especially in high-risk areas of the country.
UNICEF Egypt Representative Dr Erma Manoncourt reminded the gathering that the goal of IDD elimination was adopted at the UN World Summit for Children in 1990, which established a range of goals to improve and protect children’s lives.
Dr Manoncourt said the meeting was a "golden opportunity" to produce a concrete action plan for the sustainable elimination of IDD in Egypt.
Working in partnership with MOHP and other partners, UNICEF supports the procurement of potassium iodate for use by salt producing plants in Alexandria, Port-Said, North Sinai and Fayoum. In addition, salt testing kits have also been provided to help ministry officials determine levels of salt iodization in factories, shops and households.
Earlier this year, a comprehensive assessment of salt production, consumption and iodization in Egypt produced a series of recommendations to achieve universal iodization.
For further information contact:
Simon Ingram, UNICEF, Communication Officer, Egypt
Tel: (202) 5265083-87 Ext. 210 / 208