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ARMM boosts drive to address iodine deficiency

COTABATO CITY – The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is strengthening its campaign to address problems brought about by iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) among its population as part of the celebration of the 2015 Nutrition Month.

An orientation on the use of WYD iodine checker was conducted recently by Josie Pondevida, a senior science research specialist of the Industrial Technology Development Institute of the Department of Science and Technology, to members of the Regional Bantay Asin Task Force.

Pondevida said such checker can measure the iodine content of a salt sample accurately as compared with the rapid testing kit that has been used by the region’s Department of Health (DOH-ARMM) these past years.

Celia Sagaral, regional nutritionist of DOH-ARMM, said checking the iodine content in salt is the first step to address problems brought about by IDD in the region. This would certify and allow only salt that contains sufficient iodine to be sold in the markets in the region, “as required by Republic Act 8172, or the Act Promoting Iodization Nationwide, and ordered by the Food and Drug Administration.”

Iodine is a mineral needed by the body for normal thyroid function and for adequate production of thyroid hormones. A body that is lacking in iodine results in a range of abnormalities, which are called IDD that could affect all age groups.

IDD includes goiter and poor health conditions such as stunted growth and reduced mental capacity. Insufficient iodine intake of pregnant woman may result in miscarriage and stillbirth. Even with a successful delivery, the baby can be underweight and with conditions such as deaf-mutism and squint or cross-eye, among others.

A teenager and an adult should consume 150 micrograms while a pregnant woman should consume 200 micrograms of iodine per day. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund report, inadequate iodine consumption among children may also result in an average of 13.5 point reduction in intelligent quotient, compared with children having sufficient iodine in the body.

“IDD is not a public health threat in the ARMM, but there are cases of IDD in the region,” Sagaral said. She added the department will conduct a series of iodine checking on salt being sold in the markets in the five provinces of ARMM in the coming months.

The DOH-ARMM will also tap local government units encouraging them to pass ordinances that would make available adequate iodized salt to consumers. The department will also reinforce the so-called Asin Law that requires producers and distributors of food-grade salt to iodize their products.

Sagaral said a series of iodine checking will be conducted to salt sold in the markets in the five provinces of the region this year. School- and community-based information drive will also be conducted to raise awareness among the public on proper iodine intake and the problems brought by IDD.

She also encouraged local salt producers to make their products available for testing at the DOH-ARMM office in Cotabato City. (Bureau of Public Information)

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