It is estimated that almost half of Ethiopia’s 80 million population faces iodine deficiency disorder (IDD), raising alarm in the Horn of Africa nation.
Of the 35 million people at risk, 40 percent are believed to have contracted goitre, a swelling of the thyroid gland in the neck.
The campaign, headed by Ethiopia’s Heath Minister, Kesete-Birhane Admasu, comes as strives to eliminate complications resulting from iodine deficiency.
Although Yehulu-Deneke Alemneh, general director of Ethiopia’s Food, Medicine and Healthcare Administration and Control Authority says the “attitude of salt producers and distributors has changed well”, iodised salt coverage has reached only 28 percent of the population.
But the organisation is leaving no stone unturned with plans to prevent the circulation of non-iodised salt through public awareness programmes.
If successful the programme could see a 50 percent decrease in goitre rates and should target 80 percent of Ethiopian households.
Ethiopia consumes from 313,000 to 399,000 tonnes of salt a year and authorities’ evaluation of salt markets to prevent the distribution of non-iodised salt could prove difficult.
It is estimated that IDD also causes about 50,000 prenatal deaths each year, with a potentially harmful effect on the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) of those at risk.
Ethiopia hopes to eliminate IDD by 2015.
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