37% children suffering from iodine deficiency: seminar told

KARACHI: Health experts revealed on Tuesday that 37 percent children and 36 percent women are suffering from iodine deficiency disorders in Pakistan, while poor class, pregnant women and pre-school children are the most affected from various disorders.

They shared these statistics while addressing a seminar organized by Nutrition Support Program (NSP), Government of Sindh in collaboration with UNICEF to mark the World Iodine Deficiency Disorder Day.

Experts also shared their latest research work and emphasized the usage of iodized salt in daily routine life. They said normally, a person requires a teaspoon of iodine in his whole lifetime. As iodine cannot be stored for long periods by the body, tiny amounts are needed regularly.

Program Manager NSP Dr Fahim Aijaz said according to a survey conducted in 2011 by National Nutrition Survey (NNS), 70 percent of the households in Pakistan are using iodized salt and only 51.8 percent of households in Sindh are consuming iodized salt at present.

She said iodine deficiency causes increased child mortality, mental retardation, deaf & dumb, stunting, intellectual impairment, hypothyroidism, cretinism, goiter, maternal mortality and morbidity. She said poor class, pregnant women and pre-school children are most affected population from iodine deficiency disorders.

Additional Secretary Dr Aslam Pechuho said Sindh government was committed to bring improvement in overall health structure in Sindh province. He said comprehensive strategy was needed at present to address iodine deficiency disorders in the province.

Representatives of UNICEF Dr Nargiza Khodjavea briefed overall situation of iodine deficiency in developing countries. To outline the role of the government in policy-making, legislation, promotion, marketing and utilization of iodized salt at the national and local level was also discussed in the seminar. Objective of the seminar was to create awareness among the masses through regional & local campaigns, and promotions and marketing for usage of iodized salt.

Provincial Program Manager MI, Dr Fatima Saad, Nutrition Officer, UNWFP Dr Yasir Ihtesham, Nutrition Officer, UNICEF Dr Shehla Tabasum, Pediatrician Dr Abdul Ghaffar Billo and Dr Khwaja Masood participated in the session.