POST TIME: 14 April, 2019 12:44:46 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 14 April, 2019 11:56:12 AM
Iodine deficiency affects ‘6 crore in Bangladesh’

Iodine deficiency affects ‘6 crore in Bangladesh’

 At least six crore people in Bangladesh are suffering from iodine deficiency as producers are selling table salt without adding iodine as per government rules. As a result, such deficiency is causing hypothyroidism, resulting in thyroid enlargement, mental retardation, increased neonatal and infant mortality, retardation of growth and development of the central nervous system in children (cretinism), reproductive failure, and an increase in the fluid in the tissues. All these are caused by the absence of iodine in table salt.

Speakers mentioned all these points at a roundtable held at the city’s Poribesh Bachao Andolan (POBA) office yesterday (Saturday).

The speakers mentioned that the illnesses resulting from iodine deficiency are many, including goitre, weight gain, hypertension, heart failure, depression, psychosis, anaemia, vitiligo, menorrhagia, infertility, impotence, growth retardation and low IQ.

Talent promotion initiative president Abdul Mannan, POBA general secretary Abdus Sobhan, former International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR’B) director Dr Mostaque Hossain, Professor of the Nutrition and Food department of Dhaka University (DU), M Akhteruzzaman, and Home Economics College vice-principal Prof. Sonia Begum spoke at the roundtable, among others.

Researcher of the Iodine and Salt Centre, Monjurul Huq,

presented a keynote paper at the roundtable. POBA chairman Abu Naser Khan was in the chair.

Iodine is essential for overall growth and cognitive development. The salt iodisation process ensures that this vital micronutrient is more available and accessible to the population.

Bangladesh’s Iodine Deficiency Disease Prevention Act, enacted in 1989, makes it mandatory for all salt on the market meant for human consumption to be iodised.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around a third of the world’s population has inadequate iodine intake.

According to the speakers, a total of 14.5 gram iodised table salt intake per person per day is a must as per the National Salt Policy 2016, to reduce iodine deficiency in Bangladesh’s people.

“There are around 6,600 milligrams of sodium in 14.5 gram iodised salt. But WHO suggests an intake of 2,000 milligrams of sodium per person on a daily basis,” the speakers said.

The speakers alleged that the Bangladeshi

salt producers are making money without adding iodine to table salt.

As a result, a good number of people, including children and women, are increasingly suffering from intellectual and developmental disabilities, the speakers said.

Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) director SM Ishaq Ali told this correspondent that their officials collect samples from markets on a regular basis to ensure iodised table salt.

“It is not true that iodine deficiency is increasing in the country. Diseases caused by iodine deficiency have almost been removed in the northern region. We are strongly monitoring the markets to ensure there is iodised salt in the markets, as per government rules,” he said in reply to a query.

Nevertheless, the speakers urged the government to ensure the level of iodine in table salt, strengthen the monitoring system and include a chapter on iodine in school textbooks so that children can come to know about iodine deficiency and its remedy.