Iodine is a mineral essential for human development and growth. Globally, an estimated 2 billion people are unprotected from iodine deficiency and its related disorders (IDD) which include mental impairment, cretinism, and goiter. Iodization of all salt for human and animal consumption (Universal Salt Iodization – USI) is the simplest, safest and most inexpensive intervention to ensure an adequate iodine intake. The World Bank reports that it would cost approximately US$0.05 per child per year.
GAIN is supporting USI efforts in 17 countries, 14 of which are involved in the GAIN-UNICEF Universal Salt Iodization Partnership Project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with low coverage of iodized salt and high burden of iodine deficiency. The partnership project is supporting national efforts to obtain optimal iodine nutrition in Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Niger, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Senegal, Nigeria and Ukraine. This represents more than 500 million people vulnerable to IDD including more than 19 million newborn infants every year.
In addition to the GAIN-UNICEF Universal Salt Iodization Partnership Project, GAIN has also been supporting USI efforts in Afghanistan with the support of KBZF, Tajikistan with the support of USAID, and Zambia with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.