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Chess Champion Teymur Rajabov joins ranks of UNICEF Ambassadors

UNICEF Azerbaijan/Ibrahimova/2006
UNICEF Representative Hanaa Singer, left, with UNICEF's newest Ambassador, Teymur Rajabov, at the press conference announcing his appointment in the capital, Baku.

BAKU, 4 May, 2006: Teymur Rajabov, the world-renowned chess champion, has been appointed UNICEF National Goodwill Ambassador for Azerbaijan.

In his new role, Rajabov, who became the youngest international chess grand master in the world, will advocate for universal salt iodization across the country.

Iodine deficiency is recognised as the world's most common cause of brain damage and mental impairment in children. In childhood and adolescence, iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) include retarded physical development, impaired mental development and reduced intellectual performance. 

The human body requires less than a teaspoon of iodine throughout a lifetime to combat iodine deficiency, with minute amounts added to the diet. This is most efficiently done -- and at low cost -- by iodizing all stalt consumed by humans and animals.

Azerbaijan has been making progress towards the elimination of IDD. However, despite achievements such as the adoption of the national law on Universal Salt Iodization in 2003, considerable challenges remain, such as quality control of iodized salt production and law enforcement to outlaw non-iodized salt. Azerbaijan is committed to eliminating IDD by the end of 2007.

"The cumulative loss of brainpower is a tragedy for children," said Hanaa Singer, UNICEF Representative in Azerbaijan. "And deficiencies in iodine and other micronutrients, such as vitamin A and iron, can lead to a reduction in national economic growth of as much as five per cent.

"We are pleased to have Teymur join us in our work to improve the lives of children and young people in Azerbaijan," she said. "I am confident that he will become an outspoken and active advocate, using his talent and time to serve as an example and inspiration to young people."

For more information

Ayna Mollazade, Communication Officer, UNICEF Azerbaijan. Tel: (+994 12) 492 3013. Email: 



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