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Salt producers and health workers join forces to combat iodine deficiency disorder

CAIRO, 21 June 2006 – Preparations for a fresh campaign against iodine deficiency disorder (IDD), the single most important preventable cause of brain damage among children, have been boosted following the completion of a training workshop for staff from the Ministry of Health and Population, National Nutrition Institute and other concerned bodies including, for the first time, experts from the Egyptian salt industry.

The four-day workshop in Fayoum was supported by UNICEF Egypt and USAID, and was conducted in two stages.  A group of 11 would-be national trainers received training before conducting their own two-day training session for 21 health and food inspection workers and others from the governorate of Fayoum.  The graduated trainers will repeat the training later this year in the governorates of Minya, Beni Suef, Menoufia and Sharquia, identified as high risk governorates for the IDD problem.

Sessions dealt with the background to IDD in Egypt and the central role of iodine in combating it.  Participants learned that since the mid-1990s, universal salt iodization has been seen as the most cost-effective, sustainable and safe means of ensuring that everyone, children in particular, receive their daily iodine requirement.  The training also covered technical questions relating to the production, monitoring, control and marketing of iodized salt.

Participants had the chance to see the use of iodization technology first-hand during a field visit to the Emisal salt production facility in Fayoum.

Since the early 1990s, a nationwide programme supported by UNICEF has made good progress in ensuring that all Egyptian households have access to iodized salt.  However, the government has acknowledged that more efforts are required to ensure adequate quality control of iodized salt and to monitor its consumption, especially in high-risk areas of the country. 

A number of factories continue to produce non-iodized salt, which is sold at cheaper prices on local markets.  The problem is compounded by a lack of public awareness about the importance of consuming the iodized variety.

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.

Last year, a comprehensive assessment of salt production, consumption and iodization in Egypt produced a series of recommendations to achieve universal iodization.  The Ministry of Health and Population, the National Nutrition Institute and UNICEF are working together to achieve virtual elimination of IDD within the next three years.

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About UNICEF
For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 155 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:
Simon Ingram, Communication Officer, UNICEF Egypt
Tel: +202 5265083 thru 9, ext. 210/208, singram@unicef.org


 

 

 

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