It sounds too good to be true. But, thanks to the development of cooking salt enriched with iodine, millions of people now have an easy, affordable way to add this vital mineral to their daily diets. And that's helping combat the world's biggest cause of preventable brain damage and retardation.
Diets in most developed countries contain plenty of iodine. But in some developing countries the lack of iodine has terrible consequences including brain damage, retardation, still births and congenital abnormalities.
Vital for infants
Iodine is particularly important for children ? and if they don't get enough they can end up with an IQ 10-15 points lower than they would otherwise. Globally iodine deficiency is a huge problem with estimates that as many as 50 million children are affected worldwide ? most of them in developing countries.
We originally developed Annapurna iodised salt for the Indian market and in 1999 we launched a new project to introduce it in Ghana, where the government had been trying to get people to use iodised cooking salt for some time ? but with little success.
Our challenge was to make Annapurna as cheap as uniodised salt. By producing the salt locally we cut production costs and created 200 new jobs at the same time. We then packaged it in small sachets costing us the equivalent of about six US cents ? affordable to even the poorest consumer.
We also teamed up with UNICEF and the Ghana Health Service to create a campaign to help people understand the importance of iodine in their family's diets.
And the result? Three years after Annapurna salt was launched in Ghana over 50% of the population are using it. That's around 4 million people who won't be suffering from iodine deficiency. Annapurna is now also available in other countries and new vitamin and mineral fortified foods are being launched and developed.
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