The Progress of Nations

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 The time to sow
  
 Data briefs: Progress and disparity
    

Victory possible against iodine deficiency

Just two short decades ago, iodine deficiency was a major global problem, impairing the growth and mental development of large numbers of children and retarding social and economic progress in developing and industrialized nations.

Now, because of salt iodization, some 70% of the world’s population is protected from iodine deficiency. More than 90% of the population in 29 countries uses adequately iodized salt, and in another 36 countries at least half of the population is protected.

As a result, millions of people are spared iodine deficiency’s more evident effects such as goitre and cretinism, and societies as a whole are spared the serious economic and social consequences, including an overall reduction in the mental capacities of their populations.

But while progress has been impressive, there are still 34 countries with a combined total of about 1 billion people where 50% or less of the population uses iodized salt. These include the majority of countries in Central and Eastern Europe, where progress has slipped in recent years, and Pakistan, the Philippines and Turkey, which have greater resources but poorer track records than many other countries. In 14 of the 34 countries, 10% or less of salt is iodized.

Salt iodization is simple and inexpensive. Making it happen calls for government commitments to put legislation and monitoring mechanisms in place and to build partnerships with local salt producers.

Creating public awareness of the problem of iodine deficiency, thereby building a constituency for iodized salt, is another key to reaching the target of universal salt iodization.

Low levels, high risk

% of households consuming iodized salt
Cuba 0
Ethiopia 0
Mauritius 0
Sudan 0
Turkmenistan 0
Mauritania 3
Ukraine 4
Korea, Dem. 5
Cambodia 7
Gambia 9
Mali 9
Senegal 9
Angola 10
Iraq 10
Dominican Rep. 13
Philippines 15
Uzbekistan 16
Turkey 18
Pakistan 19
Equatorial Guinea 20
Tajikistan 20
Burkina Faso 23
Swaziland 26
Kyrgyzstan 27
Ghana 28
Russian Fed. 30
Fiji 31
Belarus 37
Guinea 37
Yemen 39
Syria 40
Sri Lanka 47
Gautemala 49
Thailand 50

Sources: UNICEF, DHS, MICS (1992-2000).

 

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