Sege (G/A) June 23, GNA - This year's iodine deficiency disorders awareness week was launched at Sege in the Dangme East District with a call on security agencies and health inspectors to step up activities along highways to ensure that adequately iodised salts reached various markets. This would help make good the ban on the sale and transportation of non- iodated salt in the country with effect from July 1.
Launching the week, Ms Gloria Akuffo, Deputy Greater Accra Regional Minister, appealed to district assemblies in salt producing areas to explore ways to support salt producers to iodise their salt before putting them on the market. The week under the theme: "Increased access to iodated salt will promote intelligence, productivity and economic development," coincided with the re-launch of the national strategy that sought to achieve a universal salt iodisation by the end of 2005.
Ms Akuffo said the theme for the occasion was appropriate since Ghana's development depended on well-trained healthy and vibrant labour force. She said studies had shown that the region that produced almost half of the nation's salt for consumption but much of its salt was not iodated. "Household use of iodated salt dropped from 50 per cent in 2002 to 30 per cent in 2003 and many markets such as Kasseh market, Madina and some markets in Accra and Tema revealed heavy presence of non-iodated salt."
The Minister noted that iodine deficiency could lead to mental impairment in children thereby reducing their intelligent quotient by almost 10 to 15 points. According to her, pregnant women who were deficient in iodine stood the risk of spontaneous abortion. "The disorder, however, were not peculiar to Ghana, many countries in ECOWAS Sub-Region have registered serious disorders among which is goitre, the common manifestation of the deficiency."
Ms Akuffo said consequently, Ghana together with other ECOWAS member states in 1994 subscribed to the goal of eliminating the deficiency by the year 2000 but this could not be done. She, therefore, called for the exploration of avenues to make iodated salt available for use by people, especially in the Greater Accra Region and the entire country.
Dr Irene Agyepong, Greater-Accra Regional Director of Health Service, said it was important for individuals to know how important their contribution was to the success of achieving the Universal Salt Iodation (USI) by 2005. According to her, a national survey conducted in 1992/ 93 revealed that 33 per cent of goitre rate among Ghana's population were linked to iodine deficiency.
Dr Agyepong said Greater Accra Region one of the poor performing region in household consumption of iodated salt with Dangme East District scoring zero per cent. "But unfortunately we do not have the technology to iodise salt here," she added.
Dr Justice Hoffman, Dangme East District Director of Health Service, said that apart from reported cases of malaria, respiratory tract infection among others, iodine deficiency cases continued to rise in the area. Dr Hoffman, therefore, appealed to Greater Accra Regional Co-ordinating Council to provide iodising facilities in the area.
Mr Noah Apaflo, Secretary of Salt Traders Association, called for the suspension of the ban on the sale of non-iodated salt saying the decision would bring untold hardship to members. Mr Apaflo urged the Government to provide peasant miners with machines and iodine to facilitate the production of iodated salt.