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Pakistan takes legal action

In the last few years, Pakistan has shown that it is possible for a large low-income country to move rapidly towards universal salt iodization.

Half of the nation's 130 million population are thought to be at risk. But in the severely affected north, consumption of iodized salt has jumped from 10% to 80% in less than a year.

A bill now before Parliament is expected to make salt iodization compulsory nationwide. "The bill will have far-reaching effects on health and the quality of life," says the UNICEF office in Islamabad.

Even before the new law comes into effect, 468 salt producers have been identified, of which 232 have ordered the necessary machinery for adding iodine, and 157 are already producing iodized salt.

Consumers as well as producers are being targeted. Thousands of billboards, banners and posters are urging people to choose iodized salt - a message reinforced by mass media, health and immunization workers, schoolteachers, religious leaders, and local community organizations.

The new law is the result of many years of work by the Ministry of Health, WHO, UNICEF, the Programme Against Micronutrient Malnutrition, and the International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders.

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