31 December 2012

Gambia: CRR TAC Members Sensitised On Iodine Deficiency Disorders

Crr — The National Nutrition Agency (NaNA), in collaboration with the Central River Region (CRR) Regional Health Directorate, on Tuesday held a day's sensitisation on Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDDs) for the regional Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) members in Janjangbureh.

Iodine is an essential trace element (mineral) needed by the body in small amounts for growth and development, especially for the brain.

Speaking on behalf of the CRR governor, the deputy governor, Malang Saibo Camara applauded NaNA for their relentless efforts in creating community awareness on IDDs, indicating that people in iodine deficiency are mentally slower and less vigorous.

He pointed out that they are harder to educate and motivate and therefore less productive at work. Camara urged on the TAC members to take the sensitisation seriously as they have important role to play.

The Information Education and Communication officer of NaNA, Abdoulie Ceesay, said the main causes of IDDs are lack of iron and vitamin A. He revealed that more than 1.5 billion of the world population have a risk of lacking iodine and WHO estimates that more than 655 million people have IDDs, 43 million have brain disorders and mental retardation caused by iodine deficiency.

He however alluded that despite some encouraging progress, micronutrient malnutrition remains a major public health problem in all West African countries in particularly IDD. The desease he said mainly affects women and children and contributes to some of the highest rates of child mortality in the world.

Kathrin Gibba-Omo, the monitoring and evaluation officer, said that The Gambia falls within the regions where IDDs are serious medical and social problems. The Gambia, she went on, the population with goiter is estimated at 16%, noting that the presence of visible goiter has traumatic effects on the affected children, causing absenteeism, inferiority complex and sometimes-severe discomfort.

Madam Gibba-Omo further explained that changes in nutritional status led to increase in aliment-dependent diseases, particular IDDs in children and women of reproductive age. In 2010, she disclosed multiple indicator cluster survey reports that 22% of households nationally are consuming iodized salt. She said studies have shown that approximately 80,000 tones of salt are consumed in The Gambia annually of which only 10% is produced locally and about 90% is imported into The Gambia.

The regional health director, Jankoba Jabbie spoke extensively on the importance of IDDs, saying that pregnant women with iodine deficiency can give birth to babies with irreversible mental and physical retardation. He said to eliminate IDDs, 90% of all households should consume adequately iodized salt. He hailed NaNA for their untiring efforts in increasing the nutritional status of women and children.

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