Russia iodizes salt with Kiwanis support

The Kiwanis family closes in on its $75 million Worldwide Service Project goal, UNICEF field reports are detailing the results of what the funds have accomplished so far. Russia, for example, is showing impressive strides in efforts to rid itself of iodine deficiency disorders (IDD).

Kiwanis funds in action: A worker bags iodized salt bound for market. A little more than $900,000 has been earmarked for IDD control efforts in Russia. The funds are being used to achieve four goals set by UNICEF: to raise awareness of the need for iodized salt consumption; to support the government in developing adequate legislation on IDD control and elimination; to support regional activities and programs aimed at increasing production, distribution, and consumption of iodized salt; and to enhance the capacity of the nation’s salt producers to manufacture iodized salt.

Much of the effort began with a "knowledge, attitude, and practice" survey, which determined how best to design and implement an effective communication and mobilization strategy. Officials interviewed teachers, health workers, salt producers, and news-media representatives. From there, universal salt iodization (USI) initiatives were developed, which began with an international conference titled State Healthy Nutrition Policy: Elimination of Micronutrient Malnutrition in the Russian Federation.

The conference brought together representatives from UNICEF, the United States-Russia Joint Commission on Economic and Technological Cooperation, the Russian Ministry of Health, and the (US) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Financial support for the meeting came from Kiwanis, UNICEF, and the International Life Science Institute. Russia also has created an official Center for Iodine Deficiency Disorders (CIDD), which develops IDD control and elimination programs.

Based at the National Endocrinology Research Center in Moscow, the center has prepared a proposal for an official government policy on the elimination of IDD. It is expected to lead to relevant legislation for eliminating IDD through a USI policy. Future plans call for tracking progress, conducting IDD surveys to determine effectiveness, training individuals to monitor IDD levels through testing, and increasing demand for iodized salt through "social marketing" strategies.