Kamis, 10 Mei 2012



IODINE deficiency is the most common cause of preventable brain damage to children. It also increases risk of infant mortality and miscarriage and can cause goitre, an enlarged thyroid gland. This deficiency is easily and effectively prevented with the use of iodised salt.

As far back as the 1960s and 70s, reports from surveys indicated that Ghana had persistently low iodised salt consumption, with the resultant health problems.

The Ministry of Health (MoH) documented cases of goitre, a disease caused by iodine deficiency, at the junction of the Red and White Volta, along the banks of the Sissili River and Binduri and Jirapa, all in the Northern Region and then at t Krobo and Akrofom in the Brong Ahafo Region.

It was not until 1994 that the results from an almost two years survey conducted in 27 districts nationwide by the MoH and the University of Ghana revealed that though iodine deficiency disorder was endemic in the northern parts of the country, it was also generally wide spread.

The cases of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) were found in districts right at the coast of the Tema Municipal in the Greater Accra Region and the Mfantsiman District in Central Region to Jirapa and Bongo districts which were far away from the coast in the Upper West and Upper East regions.

Also, nine out of the 27 districts studies were found to have serious IDD problems. The districts were Hohoe Nkwanta in the Volta Region, Bole, Zabzugu Tatale and East Mamprusi in Northern Region, Bongo in the Upper East Region and Jirapa in the Upper West region.

 A total of 3,847 goiter cases were identified in all parts of the country during the survey.
In the year 2000, Ghana, supported by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), launched a campaign to achieve universal salt iodisation in the country.

 Ghana, a major salt producing country, produces around 250,000 metric tons of salt a year, of which about 40 per cent is consumed within the country and the rest exported to other countries in the sub-region.

A campaign, led by the Ghana Health Service and supported by salt producers, was backed by law banning the production and sale of non-iodised salt for human and animal consumption and vigorous enforcement of iodised salt regulations.

This resulted in an increased iodised salt coverage rate from 0.7 per cent in 1997 to a little more than 40 per cent by 2003. The rate increased to 74.1 per cent in 2005.

  However, recent figures indicate that the rate has now dropped, even though household surveys indicate that about 90 percent of consumers are aware of the importance of using iodised salt.

The surveys show that only 32 per cent of households have their salt adequately iodised.

The absence of strict enforcement and effective monitoring have been identified as major hindrances to Ghana's bid to achieve 90 per cent household consumption of iodised salt.

To address the issues of monitoring, enforcement  and the lack of political will, which appears to be hampering the increased usage of iodised salt, the Ghana Health Service, in collaboration with United Nations, organised a training workshop on Universal Salt Iodisation (USI) campaign for religious organisations and health professionals to create awareness of the benefit of consuming iodine salts.

The goal of the USI is to achieve the virtual elimination of iodine deficiency through iodisation of all salts for human and animal consumption.

Speaking at the workshop, a Nutrition Consultant, Mr J. G. A Armah, said the consumption of salt in the Greater Accra Region had fallen over the years, especially in the salt production area of Dangme East and its environs.

He said non-iodised salt had found its way into other districts including Tema, Dangme West and Ashiaman and this posed a great challenge to the modest success so far.

He urged the Food and Drugs Board to check the authenticity of the salts before they are sent to the market for purchase and consumption.

The Deputy Director of Nursing Services of the Greater Accra Region, Madam Helen Mary Bainson, added that iodine deficiency could have adverse effect for communities with a high rate of deficiency.

“This is because the mental retardation can cover a wide range, from blunting of intellect to cretinism, and a large part of the population may have some intellectual impairment,” she explained.
She said individuals in those communities also had lower education and lower economic productivity and the whole community suffered.

 In her presentation, Madam Evelyn Tabil from the Health Promotion Unit of GHS called on the media, traditional and religious leaders to frequently educate the public about the benefit of iodised salt.
She also advised that iodised salts be properly packaged to prevent the iodine from evaporating.

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