- The Nigerian government has now finalised its salt iodisation programme, which was launched 14 years ago. Adding iodine to almost all salt consumed in Nigeria, authorities expect to have improved national child health.
The UN's children agency UNICEF has publicly congratulated the government of Nigeria for having "successfully accomplished its universal salt iodisation programme." The UN agency had supported the 14-year-old government iodisation programme.
This means that 98 percent of the population now has access to a foodstuff with sufficient levels of iodine to protect it against any deficiency in this kind. Where local salt sources are poor in iodine, severe health effects can occur among the population.
Access to iodised salt is seen as having an important health impact as iodine deficiency during pregnancy can have very serious consequences for the unborn child, leading in particular to mental retardation. In extreme cases, this deficiency can lead to cretinism, with some individuals in affected regions affected having an IQ 10 to 15 points below the average.
"In 1993, when Nigeria launched its programme," UNICEF points out, "barely 40 percent of the salt consumed in Nigeria was iodised. And during the 1980s iodine deficiency affected almost seven children in ten."
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