Sege (GAR), Sept. 23, GNA - Mr David Oppong, an Official of the Presidential Special Initiative on Salt, on Friday urged salt producers and dealers to embrace the programme on Universal Salt Iodisation (USI) because of its nutritional, health and international implications.
He said the World Health Organisation and the Economic Community for West African States were spearheading the USI programme and therefore Ghana, as a major salt exporter in the sub-region, was obliged to conform to international protocols.
Mr Oppong who was addressing major salt producers in the country at Sege in the Dangme-East district, said salt from Ghana risked being rejected by the industry in the sub-region unless it was properly iodised.
At the meeting were leading members of the Dangme-East Salt Producers Association, (DESPA) the Ada Salt Marketing Association and some officials of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO).
Various activities have been stepped up to bolster the current consumption of iodised salt in households from 44 percent to 90 percent as part of the national drive for achieving universal salt iodisation by the end of 2005.
It is also an offence in Ghana to deal in non-iodised salt except by permit for those involved in handling raw salt for industrial purposes.
According to Mr Oppong, it was important that even animals were given iodised salt because human beings eventually consume the animals. He urged salt dealers in the Ada area to develop proper structures and unite so that the salt industry in the area, the biggest in the country, would be able to sustain the local and external markets.
Mr John Kumordzi, NADMO Representative at the meeting, called for the provision of motor bikes to assist in monitoring to ensure strict compliance with the USI programme.
Mr Raymond Tettehfio, Secretary of DESPA, said the association had embarked on educating the communities and villages around on the need to iodised all salt produced in the area.
Nene Alipue-Tetteh, Luhuor Mantse in the Dangme East District, urged the government to speed up the land use demarcation plan in order to forestall the sitting of saltpans at the wrong places.
In 2002, ECOWAS member states renewed their commitment at the UN General Assembly's Special Session for Children to achieve the goal of sustained elimination of iodine deficiency by the year 2005 through universal salt iodisation.
Iodine deficiency is associated with mental retardation, goitre, stillbirth and miscarriage and has serious implications for both health and economic loss.
The loss to Ghana is estimated at just over one per cent of its Gross Domestic Product.