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Sustaining the elimination of iodine deficiency disorders (IDD)

This World Health Assembly resolution calls for a strengthening of efforts to eliminate iodine deficiency disorders globally.

Iodine deficiency disorder (IDD) is a serious public health threat for 2 billion people worldwide. It is the leading cause of mental development disorders in young children, from cretinism to more subtle degrees of impaired cognitive development which can lead to poor school performance and reduced work capacity in hundred of millions of children. It is implicated in still-birth, miscarriage, physical impairment and thyroid dysfunction. As such, it is crucially important that pregnant women and young children in particular get adequate levels of iodine.

IDD can easily be prevented at low cost, however, with small quantities of iodine. One of the best and least expensive methods of preventing iodine deficiency disorder is by simply iodizing table salt, which is currently done in many countries. It represents one of the easiest and most cost-effective interventions for social and economic development.

WHO and other intergovernmental agencies such as UNICEF, and nongovernmental organizations, in particular the International Council for Control of Iodine Deficiency (ICCID) and the Micronutrient Initiative, donor foundations such as Kiwanis International and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the salt industry have been working together to eliminate iodine deficiency worldwide and have had great success in many countries, halving the number of countries where IDD is a public health problem.

This resolution calls on WHO to redouble its efforts to eliminate IDD through Universal Salt Iodization, to strengthen cooperation with international agencies, particularly UNICEF, the ICCDD and Micronutrient Initiative, and urges Member States to take action on an urgent basis to strengthen or introduce salt iodization in the 54 remaining affected countries, focusing on the poorest and economically disadvantaged groups.

World Health Assembly resolution

WHA58.24 - Sustaining the elimination of iodine deficiency disorders

Related links

Eliminating iodine deficiency disorders (IDD)
Health topics: deficiency disorders
Vitamin and mineral requirements in human nutrition - Second edition [pdf 444kb]

Contact us

Dr Oleg Chestnov
Assistant Director-General
Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health
World Health Organization

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