ISLAMABAD: In collaboration with UNICEF, TheNetwork for Consumer Protection organized media training on the reporting of iodine deficiency disorders and promotion of consumption of iodized salt, here on Thursday with print and electronic media representatives in ICT, Islamabad Capital Territory.
“Iodine deficiency is the world’s leading preventable cause of mental retardation, with over one-third of the global population at risk due to a lack of naturally available iodine in the soil. IDD occurs when people do not receive iodine in their diets on a regular basis – and it can be easily corrected by adding iodine to salt. IDD affects individual intelligence and can lower the IQ of a population by as much as 15 points. The problem of iodine deficiency is especially serious for pregnant women and young children. During pregnancy, even milder deficiencies can retard fetal development and result in physical and mental retardation. Other effects of IDD include goiter, abnormal physical development, reproductive loss, and severe mental and physical retardation, an irreversible condition known as cretinism” said Professor Dr. Samina Naeem, Assistant Professor MnCH, Health Services Academy, Islamabad.
Iodine deficiency is a public health problem in Pakistan where 50% of the population is at risk – 72% of children are iodine deficient and 2 million are born with mental impairment. According to the recent NNS 2011, 64% of population in the country has knowledge about iodized salt but only 40% use it for cooking, 70% of households in the country cannot link it with any problem, 26% link it with goiter while negligible (4% only) consider it as cause of intellectual impairment. Today is the world food day and the iodine deficiency in our population shows how far we are in fight of extreme hunger, said Dr Khizar Ashraf, Program Officer, World Food Program.
Media can play a vital role and positive role in creating demand for iodized salt among people, said Dr Tausif Akhtar Janjua, Country Director, Micronutrient Initiative.
The objective of this training is to sensitize media regarding iodine deficiency disorders and importance of iodized salt consumption so that they proactively advocate for the consumption of iodized salt to sensitize general public on the consequences of iodine deficiencies and its disorders through print and electronic media. These trainings are of particular importance in capacity enhancing of the media for the content generation on the particular health related issue, exhorted in his introductory remarks, Nadeem Iqbal, Executive Coordinator TN. TN launched a booklet on human health and iodized salt for media to help understand the gravity of the iodine deficiency disorders.
An estimated 2.25 million Pakistani babies are born each year with intellectual impairment caused by deficiency in pregnancy. Universal salt iodization is the most effective way to ensure that every child gets enough iodine. Just one teaspoon of iodine consumed over the course of a lifetime can provide a high degree of protection against a range of iodine deficiency disorders, said Dr Syed Qadir, too Nutrition Officer, United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF.
Apart from the political issues, media should focus the health issues too. Every political party has health and education in its manifesto but do these political parties follow this manifesto in its true spirit when are in government. This does make health and education reporting a political issue. Health should be in every body’s agenda and health reporting should be treated as a serious and grave issue when promised GDP is 4% of the running government and the current GDP is too low. Media is trained to question whether it is
health or education, it is as important as any other political issue. People should know their basic rights of health and education provided by constitution and media should play its active role in providing the information to the people. Moreover, regular sensitization by the association of health journalists continues to increase awareness of the general population and also gain political commitment by government in promotion of iodized salt usage to prevent iodine deficiency disorders, said Mubashar Zaidi, Trainer Education and Health journalism
The participants shared their concerns related to iodized salt in the questions and answers session later after the briefing. The participants expressed resolved to sensitize general public on the consequences of iodine deficiencies and its disorders through print and electronic media and will become the active advocates of iodized salt usage.