Iodine Global Network (IGN)

Does unseen mean forgotten?

October 2021

A blog for Global IDD Prevention Day

Today is Global IDD Prevention Day, celebrated each year to raise awareness of the problem of iodine deficiency and its effect on children’s brain development, their school performance, and earning potential in later life.

The work to eliminate iodine deficiency through salt iodization has been a major global public health success. The visible effects of iodine deficiency – goitres and the dreadful condition of cretinism – existed worldwide and affected hundreds of millions but have now largely disappeared.

We at IGN celebrate that progress. But mild deficiency still exists in many countries, where access to iodized salt is inequitable and certain population groups remain unprotected. In others, iodine deficiency is still prevalent. And just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t affecting the development of children. Even mild deficiency has consequences for children’s cognitive potential.

The lack of visible signs of iodine deficiency also hides existing and emerging problems, such as the estimates that up to 50% of newborns in Europe are exposed to iodine deficiency, or the fact that in many cases, it’s the poorest and most vulnerable who lack access to iodized salt. And as other issues grab the headlines and countries struggle with competing priorities, they have stopped gathering the data we need to maintain and sustain progress.

Out of sight should not mean out of mind. We need not just to celebrate, but to always remember that this simple, inexpensive solution to a major global problem exists in the salt we use and the foods we eat. We need to value, protect and sustain it. We at IGN are here to do that, on this day and every day. We hope you will join us.