DAKAR, SENEGAL – The Micronutrient Initiative has reinforced its commitment to addressing iodine deficiency disorders in West Africa through a new agreement signed with the Senegalese Ministry of Trade. This agreement will aim to strengthen Senegal’s export capacity and increase the proportion of people in Senegal and in the region who have access to adequately iodized salt.
This is not only an important step towards increasing economic development and trade revenue in Senegal but also a critical development issue related to maternal, newborn and child health – and nutrition in particular.
Iodine deficiency is the leading cause of preventable mental impairment, reducing intellectual capacity, undermining investments in education and perpetuating cycles of poverty. Up to 18 million babies are born mentally impaired every year because of maternal iodine deficiency.
“This is a win-win approach where development and trade objectives come together.”
For the past 10 years, MI has worked closely with Senegal’s salt iodization program, led by the country’s Cellule de la Lutte Contre la Malnutrition, to provide technical and logistic support to the thousands of small salt producers across the country, including the development of a sustainable potassium iodate supply system so that salt can be adequately iodized.
This agreement will support salt producers like Fatick’s Marie Diouf, “The Queen of Iodized Salt”. Through an MI-supported cooperative, Marie has increased the size of her salt production business, employing several women in the area. This agreement will give her access to a larger market.
Minister of Trade Alioune Sarr welcomed the partnership between MI and his Ministry as an important step in the fight against micronutrient deficiencies and on efforts to achieve Universal Salt Iodization.
“This alliance will help ensure that salt exported across West Africa is adequately iodized to reduce iodine deficiency disorders, which will help children thrive and develop to their full potential,” said Joel Spicer, President of the Micronutrient Initiative. “At the same time, it supports market expansion and economic development in rural areas of the country. This is a win-win approach where development and trade objectives come together.”
The signing of the agreement highlights the commitment of the Government of Senegal towards improving the health of women and children through support to nutrition, and to furthering the development of the salt industry in Senegal.
At la Francophonie Summit in November 2014 in Dakar, Senegal, 57 Heads of State endorsed a resolution highlighting the need for action to improve and support the health of mothers, newborns and children across la Francophonie. The resolution stressed the importance of scaling up the fight against malnutrition and committed domestic resources to improving nutrition in country. This agreement is an excellent example of the commitments in the resolution being turned into action.