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UNICEF Representative Yukie Mokuo visits Volyn’

Yukie Mokuo at the seminar opening

19-20 August 2010 – UNICEF Ukraine Representative Yukie Mokuo visited Volyn’ oblast to meet with senior management of Oblast State Administration and advocate for development and adoption of local iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) elimination programme. This is her first visit to Volyn’ which is one of the oblasts affected by Chernobyl and traditionally recognized as being iodine deficient. Every fourth child in oblast has goiter due to lack of iodine in diet (according to the official data of the Ministry of Health 2008). Iodine deficiency is the only preventable cause or brain damage of children. Daily use of iodised salt at home as a table salt and in food production when salt is included in the recipe is recommended by WHO and UNICEF as the main strategy for normalization of iodine nutrition of the population and prevention of iodine deficiency disorders and intellectual potential losses.

In Lutsk Yukie Mokuo met Deputy Head of Volyn’ Oblast State Administration Oleksandr Kurylyuk,  Oblast Council deputy Andriy Kyrychuk, Head of Department of Labour, Social Issues and Protection of Population from the Consequences of Chernobyl Catastrophe Sofia Sаgal, Volyn Oblast Chief Sanitary Doctor Volodymyr Yatsyra  and the representatives of other relevant departments. During this meeting, UNICEF Representative discussed the areas of cooperation between UNICEF Ukraine and Volyn’ authority, in particular the implementation of Volyn’ local IDD elimination programme as a part of the efforts to improve lives of children and their families in this region.

Meeting with Volyn' oblast state administration

“Oblast authority is very concerned about situation with iodine deficiency, especially in three rayons of the oblast most affected by Chernobyl. Because of iodine deficiency Volyn’ oblast is losing its future” said Deputy Head of Volyn’ Oblast State Administration Oleksandr Kurylyuk. ‘To address this serious problem the programme on IDD elimination in Volyn’ oblast and plan of actions for its implementation will be developed and approved by oblast authority in the nearest future. We are sure that due to such a programme every year more children in Volyn’ will be born healthier, with full intellectual capacity and prosperous future’. After the meeting Oleksandr Kurylyuk and Yukie Mokuo attended the exhibition devoted to Chernobyl catastrophe in Lutsk Oblast State Administration.

The next day UNICEF Representative visited Shatsk to take part in the seminar for stakeholders on the development of local strategy for sustainable elimination of iodine deficiency in Volyn’ Oblast. It was opened by a welcoming telegram of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy to all participants of the seminar. In her opening address Mokuo emphasized ‘The areas affected by Chernobyl were iodine deficient before the disaster, and, unfortunately, are still iodine deficient today. Iodine deficiency is the only cause of brain damage in children that can be easily and effectively prevented. Daily consumption of iodised salt at home and its use by food industry are the most effective ways to ensure that every child gets enough iodine. It is also the cheapest, most reliable, effective and safe source of iodine that is capable to radically improve the situation with iodine deficiency and eliminate the problem protecting against a range of iodine deficiency disorders’. As a result of the seminar all participants learnt the latest national and international scientific data about negative impact of iodine deficiency on IQ (presentation by Olena Trush, UNICEF Nutrition Officer), existing national policy on IDD elimination (presentation by Yuriy Yashchenko, Deputy Director of Institute of Strategic Researches under the Ministry of Health) and modern social marketing practices that will help to improve consumption of iodized salt by the population.

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About IDD: Iodine deficiency disorders are a nationwide public health problem in Ukraine and the single most important preventable cause of brain damage in the country. Children are still being born with the risk of mental retardation, pregnant women have to spend additional money on medications to rectify their iodine status so that they can give birth to a health child, and the economy of Ukraine is annually losing some US$ 43 million on treatment of patients and due to low productivity as a result of iodine deficiency in the population. Iodine deficiency is one of the important public health problems that UNICEF and the Government have been struggling for the last ten years. Unfortunately, it remains unsolved and continues to condemn millions of people to a life of poor health, reduced learning ability and lower productivity.

About UNICEF: The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 150 countries to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. UNICEF opened its office in Kyiv in 1997.

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For further information please contact: Olena Trush, Nutrition Officer, UNICEF Ukraine, tel:  + 38.044.254.2450, e-mail: otrush@unicef.org .

 

 
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