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International Meeting for the Sustained Elimination of Iodine Deficiency Disorders
BEIJING, 13 October 2003 - The Network for Sustained Elimination of Iodine Deficiency Disorders will hold an international conference this week in Beijing (15-17 October). Through the work of the partner organizations and their alliances, the Network will advocate for creating the conditions necessary to sustain the national elimination of iodine deficiency and offer technical backstopping as needed. The Network's mandate is to support national efforts to eliminate iodine deficiency – and to sustain elimination – by promoting collaboration among public, private and civic organizations.
UNICEF has been involved in efforts to eliminate iodine deficiency since the 1950s. Through persuasive advocacy and active fundraising, UNICEF’s efforts have provided essential support to global iodine deficiency elimination efforts. UNICEF has participated in high-level consultations in all regions and has been particularly committed to advocacy at all levels, realizing that those in decision-making roles must be fully aware of the significance of IDD. UNICEF also directly assists countries in implementing programmes to eliminate iodine deficiency, including the purchase of salt iodization equipment and potassium iodate.
The network is made up of organizational members from leading salt producers' associations, international organizations and bilateral agencies, international non-governmental organizations, research institutions, civil associations, professional bodies and private foundations. Present Board members include officers from UNICEF, WHO, Kiwanis International, the Salt Institute (SI), the European Salt Producers’ Association, the Chinese Salt Industry Association, the Micronutrient Initiative, the International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders, the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and the United States Centers for Disease Control.
What is IDD?
When a foetus does not receive adequate iodine, the developing brain cannot establish as dense a network of interconnections among the main brain cells and intellectual capacity is compromised for life. In extreme cases children can suffer severe mental retardation, but even where iodine deficiency is less severe all children suffer a reduction of 10-15 percent in learning ability at school. Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) are rightly recognised as the world’s leading preventable mental and development disabilities.