10.08.2004 Regional News

Iodine Deficiencies cause intellectual impairment among newborn babies

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Accra, Aug 10, GNA - An estimated 120,000 Ghanaian babies are born each year with intellectual impairment caused by Iodine Deficiency Disorder (IDD) in pregnancy, Mr Emmanuel Kyeremanteng Agyarko, Director of Food and Drug Board (FDB), said on Tuesday.

Mr Agyarko, who was speaking at a media briefing on iodated salt programmes being carried out by the Board, said the figures were derived from a study the Ministry of Health conducted in August 2002.

He said only 49 per cent of Ghanaian households were using iodated salt and expressed concern about the increasing spate of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) among Ghanaians.

He said the Board's medium term strategy was to ensure 60 per cent consumption of iodated salt by households by the end of 2004 and 90 per cent by 2005, "but a recent survey in the late 2003 revealed a downward trend from 55 per cent to 44 per cent and attributed the trend to the high availability of un-iodated salt on the market.

He said despite all the interventions such as education and advocacy activities undertaken by the Board, the Nutrition Unit of the Ghana Health Services and other collaborators, the use of iodated salt was still low.

Mr Agyarko cited countries like Benin, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and Tunisia that have reached 90 per cent consumption of iodated salt at the household level.

"On the West Coast of Africa, Ghana and Senegal are the only salt mining countries; with Senegal showing an upward trend in the use of iodated salt while Ghana is plunging downwards. We must join forces to change this trend", he said.

He called on all stakeholders to evolve new methods that would involve the entire society to create social awareness that would bring about a change in behaviour.

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