Boost for the health of Sri Lanka’s children as new salt iodisation machine is commissioned
Colombo, 24 July 2006 – Sri Lanka’s drive to protect children from preventable mental retardation has received a boost with the commissioning of a new salt iodisation machine. Puttalam Salt Ltd unveiled the machine, which was supplied by UNICEF, during a ceremony at its plant this weekend. Puttalam Salt Ltd produces about one third of Sri Lanka’s supplies of iodised salt.
Salt iodisation provides a vital micronutrient that supports children’s health and protects them from mental retardation. Worldwide, iodine deficiency is the leading cause of preventable mental retardation.
Globally UNICEF is in the forefront of a long-term campaign to protect children everywhere by encouraging and enabling families to use iodized salt in their homes. In Sri Lanka UNICEF, with substantial funding from Kiwanis International, has invested heavily in salt iodisation equipment for salt producing companies. Salt factories in Hambantota, Puttalam, Mannar, Elephant Pass and Kilinochchi have been provided with iodisation machines, salt washing machines and laboratory equipment to monitor iodised salt. Every year UNICEF provides over 25,000 iodine test kits for use by health workers and public health inspectors to monitor the iodine content of salt in households and shops.
Success story for children’s health
After a government drive to establish universal salt iodisation, the percentage of households using iodised salt rose from 48 percent in 1996, to 93.6 percent in 2005. Goitre, a swelling at the neck that is a tell-tale sign of iodine deficiency, has been reduced from 20 percent in 1987 to 3.8 percent last year. To back the drive, the Government has also passed a law that bans the production, distribution and sale of non-iodised salt for human consumption.
For more information please contact:
DP Adikari – UNICEF Project Officer, Nutrition – Tel: 011 2555 270 Ex. 217