In 1990, about 30 per cent of the world's population, or 1.6 billion people, risked mental and physical disorders because they did not have enough iodine in their diet. Some 750 million people suffered from goitre, an enlargement of the thyroid gland, because they lacked iodine, and about 43 million suffered brain damage due to such a deficiency before birth or during infancy or childhood. Few developing countries had large-scale salt iodization programmes in 1990 and fewer than 20 per cent of people at risk consumed iodized salt, a low-cost way of preventing iodine deficiency disorders (IDD).
In 1994, Kiwanis International made a promise to the world's children: Kiwanis and its Kiwanis family will raise $75 million to virtually eliminate the world's most prevalent, preventable cause of mental retardation, iodine deficiency disorders (IDD). Kiwanis has partnered with UNICEF to carry out this project. Progress Of the 87 countries for which information is available, 21 are now iodizing 90 per cent or more of their food-grade salt. Another 14 countries iodize between 75 and 90 per cent. Since 1990, some 1.5 billion people have begun to consume iodized salt for the first time, protecting some 12 million infants yearly from mental retardation. All but eight countries with an IDD problem have or will soon have laws requiring salt iodization.
Kiwanis International has pleged to raise $75 million USD to elimenate IDD, with the Kiwanis Club of Ottawa pledging $50,000. To date, the IDD committee of the Club has donated $40,000. Last years event raised almost $5,000 towards the elimination of IDD.
Many of the remaining 52 countries for which information exists could achieve at least 90 per cent salt iodization by the year 2000. Other countries will need additional support. In all cases, monitoring to ensure adequate iodization continues to be necessary.
More information Kiwanis International http://www.kiwanis.org/worldwide_service_project.html, UNICEF http://www.unicef.org/information/mdg/mdg03.htm#Iodine, Micronutrient Initiative http://www.idrc.ca/mi/iodine.htm or CNN http://www.cnn.com/HEALTH/9709/27/china.iodine/