February: National Iodine Month (Prevention and Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorder)

The government is observing February as National Iodine Month with an aim of creating awareness among people about consumption of iodized salt.
Iodine is an essential element for thyroid function, necessary for the normal growth, development and functioning of the brain and body.
It also influences a variety of metabolic processes in the body (converting food to energy, regulating growth and fertility, and maintaining body temperature).






Highlights
NATIONAL NUTRITION POLICY 2004
IDD 
Objective 3: To virtually eliminate iodine deficiency disorders and sustain the elimination.
Target 1: To virtually eliminate iodine deficiency disorders by the year 2017.

Strategies for Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (National Nutrition Program)
  • Strengthen the implementation of Iodized Salt Act, 2055 for regulation and monitoring of iodized salt trade to ensure that all edible salt is iodized
  • Encourage better storage practices to prevent iodine loss
  • Ensure systematic monitoring of iodized salt
  • Increase the accessibility and market share of iodized packet salt with ‘two‐child’ logo
  • Create awareness about the importance of use of iodized salt for the control of IDD through social marketing campaign
  • Develop IDD monitoring system and implement the monitoring survey at national level
Prevention and Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorder
A policy to fortify all edible salt with iodine in Nepal was adopted by MoHP in 1973. A social marketing campaign along with celebration of the month of February as “Iodine Month” continues to raise awareness about the government endorsed “two‐child‐logo” packaged salt for consumption of adequately iodized salt at household level.The Five Year National Plan of Action to achieve optimal Iodine Nutrition in Nepal: 2015‐2019 prioritized Universal Salt Iodization (USI) as the primary intervention to improve iodine status while reducing reliance on iodine supplementation, which had been in place earlier. The plan focused on creating the necessary infrastructure that could provide a foundation for sustaining achievements. The plan outlines the key successes, further strengthening critical program elements and incorporating lessons from other countries where USI programs are maturing.

This year, a social campaign was successfully conducted in Achham and Doti of the Far‐Western Hills where DHS data has shown the lowest coverage for the household consumption of iodized salt. The major activities carried out were: Iodine tests in those VDCs, orientation to FCHVs, and conduction of IDD classes, street drama show, and community level orientation.
DoHS, Annual Report 2070/71 (2013/2014)


Important Points
  • Nepal Demographic Health Survey-2011 shows that about 80 per cent of Nepali households have access to iodised salt.
  • Iodine deficiency, which leads to decline in cognitive capacity and brain damage, is most lethal to foetuses and young children. Inadequate consumption of iodine increases chances of miscarriage and stillbirth.
  • According to the UNICEF, 30 per cent of the households in the developing world are not consuming iodised salt and 41 million infants and newborns are at the risk of iodine deficiency.
  • The national survey to study the impact of iodine deficiency and availability of iodised Salt in Nepal-2007 found that 23 per cent of Nepali households were still consuming salt with inadequate iodine content.
  • The survey further found that 84.2 per cent of the salt being sold at retail outlets around the country contained iodine.  only 67.8 per cent salt in retail stores had iodine content more than the recommended 30 parts per million (ppm). The survey stated that Nepal’s ecological and biophysical conditions have made Nepalis more susceptible to iodine deficiency.



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