Call edition 2012
A new edition of the Prize of the Belgian Development Cooperation has been launched. This call is open until March 31st, 2011. You can read in the regulations whether you comply with the criteria for participation.
Iodine deficiency is one of the most widespread nutritional problems in the world, causing not only endemic goitre and cretinism but also retardation in children’s growth, in their mental development and their ability to learn, even with only a minor iodine deficiency. Enriching salt with iodine has proven to be an easy, inexpensive and exceptionally effective way to protect millions of people. However, iodization must be properly controlled.
Sri Lanka introduced the iodization of salt in 1995 without, it seems, adequate controls, which is what this young researcher has sought to verify. In her study, she shows that a high proportion of ordinary salt samples contain iodine levels that are either too low or too high, sometimes even toxic levels. This observation, together with an excess of iodine in the urine in a significant number of young women (the most exposed group) seem to confirm that salt iodization is subject to insufficient controls in Sri Lanka, which could have serious or even fatal consequences for health.
The sample is only representative for the region studied, but if other studies should show similar results, the government would need to take drastic measures to control iodization and prevent the health problems it can cause, i.e. hypo-thyroidism and especially hyper-thyroidism, sometimes resulting in cardiac infarction.
In the light of the fact that there have been official demands at an international level for better controls on the iodization of salt – albeit often in vain – this original and well-conducted research makes a significant contribution to a pertinent issue within development.
report: Prof. I. Beghin, Honorary Professor, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerpen, Belgium