Fewer people consuming iodized salt

At a meeting to mark ‘The National Iodine Day’ on November 2 in Hanoi, the Ministry of Health announced a sharp decline in the number of people consuming iodized salt today or salt containing less than 15 PPM of iodine.

In 1999, mandatory regulations were issued and the nation's salt industry responded positively. To achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2005, quality iodized salt had reached more than 90 percent of households and the rate of goiter in children had been reduced to a mere 3.6 percent. The very affordable iodized salt was welcomed by all consumers.

But the success was short-lived, as in 2006 the program to fight Iodine Deficiency Disorder no longer existed and the health sector took charge of the program, causing a major setback. A decree liberalizing the salt industry did not include iodization as a mandatory requirement. As a result, salt producers felt no obligation to check for iodine content.

Accordingly, by 2009, the number of households consuming iodized salt was only around 69.5 percent.

Moreover, in 2011, population surveys conducted by the United Nations Children's Fund found that the percentage of households in the country consuming adequately iodized salt was only 45.1 percent.
Iodine deficiency is the single greatest cause of preventable mental retardation. Severe deficiencies cause cretinism, stillbirth and miscarriage, while even mild deficiency can significantly affect the learning ability of a person.
 
The impact of iodine deficiency on Vietnam's children is mind-boggling. Reports from national medical and research institutions indicate that tomorrow's generation may fall short of their full intellectual and physical potential, simply because the food they eat does not contain enough essential vitamins and minerals.

By Nguyen Quoc – translated by Uyen Phuong

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