Consuming iodized salt has made them believe that they deserve a better future
Children in Moldova are sure that since they have started using only iodized salt in their food that they are going to grow up healthy and intelligent and will certainly become successful.
Cristian Zagornai is 11 years old and lives in the village of Budesti located several kilometers away from Chisinau, the capital of the Republic of Moldova. He says that a lesson on iodized salt at the local school last year has changed his life. Cristian always makes sure his parents and his elder sister Virginia (16) buy only iodized salt and use it in their food daily.
“Now I know that it is necessary to use only iodized salt in the food we consume. I have learnt that without this chemical, our bodies and especially our brains can become ill,” says Cristian. “Because I consume iodized salt, I study well and get only the highest marks at school. Besides, iodized salt is not a medicine, that is, children can eat it without any problems.”
“Iodized salt is an intelligent, cheap and accessible solution for preventing diseases caused by an iodine deficiency in the body,” says Cristian’s teacher Aliona Munteanu. “We have insisted that our pupils not only understand this, but also that they pass the message on to their parents, grandparents and neighbors in order for the information to spread more quickly and more efficiently.”
UNICEF/MOL/BUD5/Putumtica: October 2007. Cristian and his mother arepreparing meal using the iodized salt.
For that reason, immediately after the special lesson on iodized salt in school, Cristian went home and told his mother what he had learnt.
“Now we cook together, and my boy always insists on adding salt to the food by himself. Moreover, Cristi has been told at school that iodine evaporates quickly, so he always makes sure the salt is kept in a jug that he carefully covers with a lid every time the salt is used,” explains Cristian’s mother Elena Zagornii.
Cristian did not stop with informing his mom. He told his father, his elder sister, his football teammates and his after-school friends about how important it is to use iodized salt. “I know that it will help not only me but also the others to grow intelligent and physically well developed and to have a better and healthier future.”
Some 450,000 children and their families were involved in this unique communication action for promoting the benefits of iodized salt. Thus, in September 2004 a session on iodized salt was conducted simultaneously in all of the country’s schools for students of grades 1st through 7th.
UNICEF/MOL/BUD3/Putuntica: October 2007. Aliona Munteanu, the Cristian's teacher talking about iodized salt at a special lesson on this issue.
In preparation for the session, every teacher involved received a Teacher’s Guide developed by the Ministry of Education and UNICEF, while every student – a brightly colored info sheet with basic information on iodized salt and its benefits to health and intellectual development. Given the age of children involved in this activity, both the artistic conception and the content of the leaflets were intended to stimulate children’s interest. The leaflets are brightly colored, with creative drawings, and a poem especially written for this activity. It was hoped that the bright info sheet will help the children perceive the activity as a highly attractive one.
“A few elements have been identified as crucial to the Campaign's successful implementation”, says Svetlana Stefanet, Chief of UNICEF EAQS Programme. „Among those is the implication of children as agents of change and channeling of information to families via children”.
UNICEF/MOL/BUD2/Putuntica: October 2007. Cristian doing his class work in the school of Budesti.
As a result of the National campaign on promoting the use of iodized salt, the household consumption of iodized salt in Moldova increased from 34 per cent in 2000 (national household survey MICS) to 60 percent in 2005 (National Demographic Health Survey).
By Lina Botnaru