Kpong, (E/R) Oct. 19, GNA - Mr. David Oppong, Coordinator of the President's Special Initiative on Salt, on Wednesday said it was government's intention to transform the salt industry into an internationally competitive one to boost Ghana's export drive in the area.
He said it was therefore, imperative that Ghanaians embraced the universal salt iodisation programme aimed at ensuring that all salt produced was fortified with iodine by the end of the year, in line with the international protocol drawn up by ECOWAS and the World Health Organisation.
Mr Oppong was speaking at a ceremony at Kpong Barrier where 5,000 iodine test kits were handed over to the security services to help them monitor the production and movement of salt across the country. Ghana passed legislation in 1996 to enforce the iodisation of salt. The Police Service and the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) have been brought in to ensure compliance.
A programme has been set in place to ensure that the current levels of consumption of iodised salt is raised from 43 per cent to about 90 per cent by the end of this year.
In 1994, ECOWAS member states agreed to take every necessary step, including mandatory legislation, to ensure that all salt for human and animal consumption would be adequately iodised. Mr Oppong said with Ghana having a strategic position as one of the two leading salt producers in the sub-region, it was the responsibility of all to ensure that the country produced only iodised salt. Senegal is the other salt leading producer.
He said the country's salt would be rejected by her neighbours who were only interested in importing iodised salt from other countries such as Brazil and Namibia.
Mr Emmanuel Agyarko, Chief Executive Officer of the Food and Drugs Board, who handed over the test kit to the security personnel, said the universal salt iodisation programme was a national assignment and was of public health concern.
Mr Aliu Bello, Head of Health at UNICEF, said the sub-region would benefit tremendously if Ghana took all necessary steps to ensure that all salt was properly iodised.
Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mr Kwaku Dzakpata of the Police Intelligence Bureau and Mrs Dinah Brandful, Head of CEPS Laboratory, received the test kits on behalf of their respective organisations. Apart from other health burdens on the population, statistics from UNICEF indicate that every year, an estimated 120,000 Ghanaian babies are born with intellectual impairment caused by iodine deficiency during pregnancy.