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A Pinch of Salt: tackling Iodine Deficiency Disorders among children in Sudan

UNICEF/Shehzad Noorani
© UNICEF Sudan/Shehzad Noorani

By Issraa El-Kogali

Khartoum August 31, 2011: This month saw a significant new step towards the goal of universal salt iodization (USI) in Sudan when the eastern state of Gadaref passed a new law prohibiting the sale of all non-iodized salt.

The introduction of the new law was marked at a ceremony presided over by the State Minister of Health, Dr. Elsadig Yousif Elbadawi, together with representatives from the state legislative council and other officials.

The event was an opportunity to raise public and political awareness about how important salt iodization is for protecting children’s health, and as a contribution to the longterm development of the country.

Official data shows that one quarter of babies born in Sudan are at risk of not reaching their maximum intellectual potential due to a lack of iodine (a crucial micronutrient) in their mother’s diet. In severe cases, these children are at risk of suffering irreversible brain damage.

“The tragedy is that this situation is so easily preventable, by the simple process of adding a few drops of potassium iodate to the salt used in food,” said UNICEF Representative, Nils Kastberg.

“By making sure all salt is iodized by manufacturers, we are protecting Sudan’s human assets and – in effect -- assisting the country’s long-term development.”

UNICEF is working closely with the Government on USI. So far, So far, 5 of the country’s 15 states have passed laws banning the sale of non-iodized salt: Kassala, Sennar, West and South Darfur, as well as Gadaref.

Bringing the north-eastern Red Sea State on board will be particularly important, as it is the country’s largest producer of salt.
With the laws in place, health inspectors are trained to test all salt at the point of production, using testing kits to monitor quality and standards.

Achieving the collaboration of food traders and distributers is critical, USI advocates say, making it all the more important that a strong partnership is created between the authorities and the private sector.



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