ETHIOPIA – Iodized-salt producing companies in Ethiopia have established a new association in bid to help combat iodine deficiency in the country.

According to AddisFortune, the association was formed by the Ethiopian Food, Beverage, & Pharmaceutical Industry Development Institute.

The Ethiopian Iodized Salt Producers Association, made of close to 15 salt producers plans to introduce iodized-salt to the public, generate revenue, expand the industry and control the supply of non-iodized salt to the market.

It will bring together more than 1,000 small, medium and large individuals and organisations engaged in salt production in Ethiopia.

Apart from improving supply of iodized salt in the market, the association will create awareness for consumers about the use of iodised salt and increased production of the product in Ethiopia.

When fully operational, the Association will give certification to those who are involved in the production of iodized salt.

“The sector is in the infant stage,” said Girma Tekelemariam, general manager of SVS Salt Production Plc and president of the new association.

“The new development will have a positive effect on improving our capacity for production and the quality of the product.”

Salt iodization in Ethiopia

Ethiopia achieved Universal Salt Iodization (USI) in the early 1990s but since then, consumption of iodized salt has dropped significantly, given that most of the country’s salt is imported.

In response to this, government began to explore the indigenous sources for salt production to meet salt needs of the country.

However, during the transition period, iodization efforts were sidelined.

That is why the government is working to re-establish USI in the country.

The latest report from the Ethiopian Public Health Institute shows that the national salt coverage was 85%, but only about 26% of the households were getting an adequate amount of iodised salt.

Ethiopia has mandated the supply of iodized salt as it is essential for healthy brain development in foetuses and young children.

According to the World Health Organization, all food-grade salt used in households and food processing should be fortified with iodine as a safe and effective strategy for the prevention and control of iodine-deficiency disorders in populations living in both stable or emergency settings.

Worldwide, iodine deficiency affects about two billion people and is the leading preventable cause of intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Iodine deficiency negatively affects the health of women, economic productivity, quality of life of adults; causes thyroid gland problems, including endemic goitre.

A nationwide study conducted in Ethiopia revealed that the total goitre prevalence in schoolchildren was 39.9%.