Inadequate iodized salt hindering prevention of IDD – Study
Salt manufacturers and the Food and Drugs Board (FDB) have been called upon to ensure that salt put on the market for consumption contains adequate quantities of iodine needed to prevent Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD).
This is because some areas in the country have been identified to be highly deficient in iodine, causing the people to suffer from IDD that could be prevented by the effective implementation of the Universal Salt Iodization (USI) policy.
The disorders caused by iodine deficiency include goitre, increased prenatal mortality, irreversible mental retardation, preventable brain damage in children, and cretinism.
This was contained in a study carried out by Mr. J.G.A. Armah, Deputy Director of Public Health, and Professor E. Asibey, Senior Lecturer in the Nutrition Department of the University of Ghana, Legon, and sponsored by UNICEF to assess the Biological impact of iodized salt consumption in the Bongo District of the Upper East Region and the Jirapa District of the Upper West Region.
Iodine Deficiency Disorders could have been reduced considerably by the introduction of the Universal Salt Iodization if the salt sold in the market was adequately iodized, the report noted.
It indicated that even though more that 80 per cent of the people consumed iodized salt, only 38.5 per cent and 36.3 per cent of households in Jirapa and Bongo Districts respectively, consumed adequate iodized salt, falling far short of the target of 90 per cent.
Professor Asibey, presenting the findings of the study in Bolgatanga on Thursday, said it showed that despite the inadequate iodization of salt, the incidence of some IDD related diseases like goitre had reduced from 56.4 per cent to 10.6 per cent in Jirapa and 56.5 to 18.2 in the Bongo District between 1994 and 2007.
The incidence of Median Urine Iodine rose from severe iodine deficiency to appreciable levels in the people tested in the two districts. The improvement, even though far below the ideal, could have been because iodized oil capsules were distributed to people in the two districts, he said.
He stated that the interventions of iodized salt consumption since 1995 had caused significant improvement and brought the hitherto severe situation in the Jirapa and Bongo Districts to a mild stage as evident from both the adults and primary school children tested.
Dr. John Koku Williams-Awoonor, Upper East Regional Director of Health Services, explained that the lack of iodine in pregnant women could affect the central nervous system of the baby and cause irreversible brain damage, still births, infant mortality and low intelligence.
“If the present energetic minority should remain the same for a long time, they will grow old, but if the newborns are strong enough in all their capacities, be it physical or mental, they will grow to replace the aging ones and develop our economy. We need children with high intelligent quotient (IQ) to become future leaders of our country and even international leaders”, he noted.
The Health Director reiterated that salt iodization was the only sure way to prevent IDD, and urged the people to look out and report any sellers or dealers of non-iodized salt to the appropriate authority for the law to take its course.
A baseline survey had earlier on been carried out between 1991 and 1994 in 27 districts in the country and that had shown that many of the areas had varying degree of endemicity ranging from mild to severe, based on Total Goitre Rates (TGR) and mean urinary iodine (UI) excretion rate. Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) was therefore declared as a major public health concern particularly for pregnant women and young children.
As a short term measure to address the problem, Oral Iodized Oil Capsules were distributed to children and women in the severely endemic zones soon after the baseline study. Consumption of iodized salt by both human and animals was made mandatory in 1996 to ensure universal salt iodization.