September 9, 2021 5:35:04 am
A large number of salt samples from anganwadi centres across 33 districts of Gujarat have been found to not comply with minimum iodine levels- 15 ppm- as per the National Iodine Deficiency Disorders Control programme (NIDDCP), a survey report findings shared by Consumer Education and Research Centre (CERC) Ahmedabad Wednesday states.
CERC has partnered to implement the NIDDCP in Gujarat as the testing and advocacy body for the past two years and has tested over 5,000 samples of salt from 33 districts. Samples have been drawn from different points of distribution like retailers, wholesalers, PDS or fair price shops, anganwadi and ICDS (Integrated Child development Services) centres and from salt iodization units (SIUs) in Halvad, Khadaghoda, Kutch, Santalpur and Bhavnagar.
Elaborating on the findings from the survey, Anindita Mehta, chief general manager of CERC said, “About 55 per cent of samples collected from Anganwadis and ICDS centres were found to be substandard (<15ppm iodine content). Districts with maximum number of substandard samples are Tapi, Narmada, Bharuch, Morbi, Surendranagar, Gandhinagar.”
Since an ongoing project, CERC has been sharing findings of such surveys with the state government-both at the state and district levels.
Further, adding she said, “Also, at the salt processors end, about 35-40 per cent samples were found substandard (<20ppm).This is a matter of grave concern, as the beneficiaries of ICDS are children, pregnant women and lactating mothers. A woman’s iodine requirements increase substantially during pregnancy to ensure adequate supply to the foetus. Iodine deficiency at these stages can lead to a range of disorders that affect the child’s brain and nervous system development.”
Besides varying levels of low Iodization, CERC survey has also found problems of mislabelling and misbranding. Brand wise analysis of non-compliant (<15ppm iodine) samples revealed that there are brands which do not mention iodine levels, and certain other brands falsely claim the level of iodine in their products.
NIDDCP is being implemented in the country with Universal Salt Iodisation (USI) as a strategy to ensure that more than 90 per cent of the population has Iodised salt available at household level. Though compared to other states, Gujarat fares better with an overall 80 per cent compliance, there are still some areas that need immediate state government intervention, the survey reports.
Iodine deficiency results in a wide array of preventable disorders and disabilities collectively known as iodine deficiency disorders (IDD).
With a focussed campaign on iodized salt, ‘Namak aur Sehat’, CERC has been conducting awareness, outreach and community sensitizing programmes on the benefits of iodized Salt.
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