IGN and its partners believe in a world where people have access to nutritious food, including the iodine in their diet that allows children to reach their full cognitive potential. The profound health and economic impacts of COVID-19 will make that vision more difficult to attain, but even more important to achieve.
Our job as an organization is to support and catalyze global and national iodine programs. Around the world, IGN and its partners are working to protect the progress we’ve made in ensuring that salt is iodized to prevent iodine deficiency disorders, and to work out where we go from here.
There are a lot of things to think about: assuring the procurement and supply of the iodine that is used to fortify salt; thinking of ways to mitigate rising prices caused by stops or slowdowns in production; making sure that the salt that countries are importing is adequately iodized and that population iodine status is maintained, and positioning iodized salt production as an essential economic and public health activity.
Over the coming months, this blog will share examples of how countries and stakeholders are doing just that. Here are some early developments:
Less availability and higher cost of animal source foods and fruits and vegetables due to COVID-19 have led to more reliance on food staples, especially among the poorest and most vulnerable. That’s why it’s more important than ever to keep fortifying foods with essential micronutrients to protect the quality of diets of those who don’t have access to more expensive foodstuffs. And for countries with scarce resources to spare in the COVID-19 environment, such interventions are highly cost-effective. The World Bank and the Copenhagen Consensus
have both ranked food fortification as one of the best investments in development in terms of cost-effectiveness. Global improvements in iodine status over the past 25 years have resulted in major health and economic benefits in low- and middle-income countries.
As we rebuild our food systems and plan to advance global nutrition, let’s make sure we protect and expand on these key interventions that can improve the quality of people’s diets through access to safe, affordable nutritious fortified foods. They are more necessary than ever.