The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) have pledged further commitment to scale up the fight against circulation of non-iodized salt in the country.
Director General of NAFDAC, Dr. Paul Orhii said this in Abuja while receiving the I-Check equipment for testing of iodine in salt donated by GAIN and Micronutrient Initiative (MI). According to Orhii, non-iodized salt constitutes a serious health challenge on the mental development of children and other devastating consequences occasioned by iodine deficiency disorders. Orhii maintained that if the country must remain competitive on the global economic stage, then its child population must be safeguarded from all forms of iodine deficiency disorders (IDD). While pledging the commitment of the agency to strict monitoring of all distribution and retail outlets to ensure compliance with the Universal Salt Iodization (USI) standards, Dr. Orhii expressed appreciation to the Canadian government through MI and GAIN for the gesture and promised to show accountability in the use of the equipment.
Earlier, the Country Manager of GAIN, Dr. Larry Umunna while making the donation in the company of his counterpart at MI, Dr. Oladipo Rauf, lamented the decline in the consumption of adequately iodized salt at household levels from 98 per cent in 2005 to 52 per cent in 2008, a situation he described as disturbing. Umunna noted that the figure rose slightly to about 75 per cent in 2011 through the concerted efforts of NAFDAC and other partners, saying the goal of the current collaboration is to scale up the consumption of iodized salt to at least 85 per cent at household level.
He explained that “the goal of this project is to accelerate efforts towards the sustainable elimination of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) as a public health problem through salt iodization. We also want to increase the national coverage of households consuming adequately iodized salt to at least 85 per cent.”
Umunna added that Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) affects one third of school children in developing countries leading to an average loss of 10-15 IQ points, and called on regulatory authorities to increase monitoring and enforcement of compliance by factories and marketers to Universal Salt Iodization standards