Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) arethe leading cause of preventable mental development disorders in young children. It ranges from stunted growth to more subtle degrees of impaired cognitive development.The consequences of IDD affect hundreds of millions of children and adults. They include reducedIQ levels, poorer school performance and lower work capacity. It is also blamed for still-births, miscarriages, physical impairment and thyroid dysfunctions.
IDD was identified as a major public health issue in Bangladesh in the 1980s. Between 1981 and 1997, a programme to administer injected iodized oil was implemented in districts with high rates of IDD. However, as the wider prevalence of IDD came to be known, fortification of salt with iodine was found to be a far more cost-effective and sustainable solution. In 1989, the Government of Bangladesh passed a law making it mandatory for all edible salt to be iodized in line with the global recommendation of Universal Salt Iodization (USI). Based on it, the production of iodized salt was initiated in Bangladesh in 1990.
UNICEF has been supporting the Ministry of Industries since 1981 for the implementation of the salt iodization programme in Bangladesh. This includes – among other measures - support for the development of appropriate salt iodization technology in the country, capacity strengthening of salt millers, establishment of a monitoring systemand effective implementation of legislation.
Currently, UNICEF is working with both the public and private sectors, i.e. Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) under the Ministry of Industries and Islampur Salt Mill Owner Versatile Cooperative Society Limited (ISMOS), to improve the availability of adequately iodized salt for all. Improvements of quality and in the quantity of crude salt are some of the critical issues that greatly effect the production of quality salt. This is an issue of critical importance for the achievement of USI and the national human resource development.
I would like to sincerely thank BSCIC and ISMOS for their active initiatives in this regard. I also wish success to the Ministry of Industries in taking necessary actions to scale up the concerned initiatives nationwide.