On October 13-14, 2016, in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, IGN and UNICEF held a consultative workshop for multi-sector country teams from the western part of the UNICEF CEE/CIS (Central and Eastern Europe/Commonwealth of Independent States) Region, entitled Sustainable Prevention of Iodine Deficiency and Achievement of Optimal Iodine Nutrition.
Following on a similar meeting in Almaty, Kazakhstan for countries from the eastern part of the CEE/CIS Region in September 2015, the Sarajevo workshop brought together 40 participants from Albania, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kosovo (UNSCR 1244), Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Republika Srpska, Romania and Serbia. Participants included officials from Government (Ministries of Health, Food Safety Agencies, Consumer Protection Services, etc.), experts in public health, nutrition and endocrinology, salt industry employees, NGO representatives and UNICEF, WHO and IGN officers.
Words of welcome were shared by high-level officials from the hosting authorities of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska, followed by representatives of UNICEF, WHO and IGN. Global experience, progress and key programmatic challenges were presented by Dr. Roland Kupka of UNICEF HQ, and the Head of the WHO Country Office in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dr. Victor Olsavszky, introduced the ways to align national USI and salt intake reduction strategies. Specialist presentations were offered by Euthyroid (Dr. Henry Völzke) and EUSalt (Mr. Wouter Lox).
In preparation for the workshop, the participating country teams had collected the available information on key aspects and changes that had taken place during the past 5-10 years in the activities and outcomes of their national USI strategies, using a specially designed questionnaire based on the findings of a regional review in 2009-10. Each team then prepared a country poster and a focused presentation that covered three key important aspects for sustained success, namely (a) Strengthening national USI partnerships; (b) Keeping up effective USI/IDD surveillance; and (c) Ensuring permanent high coverage and iodized salt quality for food industry and households. Moderated country presentations and discussions followed these themes, thereby promoting a rich sharing of experiences and lessons learned across countries. Each country team developed an outline of 3-4 key actions, or “Road Map”, for the next 3-4 years, for sharing and adoption among the broader national partnerships upon return to their countries.
The Almaty Workshop was attended by 50 participants from 10 countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Participants included Government officials (Ministries of Health, Sanitary-Epidemiological and Consumer Protection Services), health and nutrition experts, salt industry representatives, as well as UNICEF and IGN representatives from the CEE/CIS Region.