Iodine Global Network (IGN)

Mombasa Declaration

March, 2020
In November 2019, UNICEF, in partnership with IGN, NI, WHO and GAIN and with the support of the Kenyan Government, jointly supported a regional consultation on the sustainable prevention and control of iodine deficiency disorders in Eastern and Southern Africa. The purpose of the meeting was to re-energize and re-focus attention on salt iodization programs in the region, and led to a high level of engagement and commitment from those in attendance.

Iodine deficiency, recognized as the world’s most preventable cause of brain damage, has long been endemic in all countries of Eastern and Southern Africa. Impairing the development of young children by restricting their ability to learn, lead productive lives and thrive, its prevention is achievable through universal salt iodization (USI), whereby all edible salt is fortified with a minimal amount of iodine. As a result of close collaboration between governments, salt producers, development agencies, academic institutions and civil society, tremendous progress has been achieved over the past 20 years toward establishing USI programs in the region. While recognizing the tremendous achievements over the past two decades, it’s also imperative to improve programs, prevent slippage and sustain achievements to continue this forward progress.

The 2019 Mombasa Consultation was a very productive session that brought together participants from 15 countries to review progress, learn about emerging opportunities and reflect on strategic improvements that can be made to improve national programs. We must now take what we learned and put it into action, working toward a world without iodine deficiency disorder.

Some of the highlighted outcomes of the consultation include:

  • Ensuring optimal iodine intake is crucial for all segments of the population, but particular focus will be placed on children and women of reproductive age through universal salt iodization (USI)
  • USI generates a $30 return for every $1 investment while boosting IQ by as much as 13.5 or more points
  • Adapting and sharing experiences and approaches reflective of the changing nutrition landscape, including reducing salt consumption to prevent non-communicable diseases, achieving healthy balanced diets and reforming health systems delivery
  • Acknowledging the importance of innovative monitoring and evaluation tools to better characterize performance
  • Developing benchmarks for achieving World Health Assembly (WHA) nutrition targets
  • Despite success in preventing IDD, there still exists populations that are iodine deficient
  • Innovatively and creatively supporting the salt industry to sustain USI through multiple approaches including strengthening partnerships, improving quality control and assurance, recognizing the use of iodized salt in processed foods and condiments, and harmonizing and adhering to the regional iodized standards
  • Eliminating challenges to cross-country and intra-regional trade and monitoring through consistent implementation of regional standards
  • Recognize the critical need of continued political will, advocacy and social mobilization to create awareness of policy makers and the public at large to ensure optimal iodine intake on brain development of children especially during the first 1000 days of life from conception to two years and throughout the life course to improve social and economic productivity and development

From discussions and commitments, the group has declared the following:

  • To reaffirm a commitment to strengthen partnerships and coordination through our National Food Fortification Associations and incorporate USI and Iodine Nutrition in their mandates
  • Continue to advocate for all member states to adopt regional standards, enforce and report on compliance annually and using accountability mechanisms
  • Address the challenge of production and distribution of adequately iodized salt
  • Promote social marketing/communication and advocacy to create a demand for adequately iodized salt in all member states, creating public awareness on the importance of consuming iodized salt
  • Continue to monitor and measure progress in keeping with the commitments in this declaration
IGN is deeply committed to continue to work with all partners to support the continued strengthening of national programs to ensure that iodine deficiency is forever eliminated, ensuring every child is born with the opportunity to reach their full potential.

To view more, download the entire Mombasa DeclarationAchtung Link öffnet sich in einem neuen Fenster, including surveys and action plans for various countries.