Bangladesh celebrates local salt mills for iodization work

honorees at the Bangladesh salt mill awards 2017

Honorees at the “2017 Best Iodized Salt Mills Awards” in Dhaka

Dhaka, BANGLADESH – This June, Nutrition International, the Government of Bangladesh and other partners presented “The 2017 Best Iodized Salt Mills Awards” to the country’s top performing salt mills, recognizing their contribution to the fight against iodine deficiency disorders.

Iodine is essential for overall growth and cognitive development. The salt iodization process ensures that this vital micronutrient is more available and accessible to the population. Bangladesh’s Iodine Deficiency Disease Prevention Act, enacted in 1989, makes it mandatory for all salt on the market meant for human consumption to be iodized.

The salt mill awards were presented by Minister of Industries Amir Hossain Amu, MP along with Minister of Health and Family Welfare Mohammad Nasim, MP. The award-winning mills have consistently produced quality iodized salt that has protected millions of Bangladeshi men, women and children from the debilitating effects of iodine deficiency. The honorees were chosen on the basis of adequate iodization, quantity of iodized salt produced, quality control and in-house testing facilities, safety, security and cleanliness of the premises, and fostering an environment that is accommodating and supportive of female workers.

 “Without making a high profit their main objective, salt mill owners have added iodine to edible salt as part of their social responsibility,” said Minister of Industries Amir Hossain Amu, MP at the awards ceremony. “We are very happy with their contribution.”

Nutrition International has been a longstanding partner of the Government of Bangladesh in strengthening the Universal Salt Iodization program and ensuring salt is adequately iodized and easily available across the country. Working closely with small- and medium-scale salt producers for the past 12 years, Nutrition International has provided technical, managerial and financial support to increase the production of iodized salt in Bangladesh. In 2017, with Nutrition International’s support, around 600,000 metric tonnes of iodized salt were produced in the country, reaching 90.6 million people. This iodized salt fortified 23 million women of reproductive age and protected 1.7 million newborns against iodine deficiency.

“We are proud to be a part of these awards, the first of their kind in the Universal Salt Iodization (USI) program,” said Nutrition International Country Director, Bangladesh, Zaki Hasan. “We are confident that this will not only increase awareness but will also encourage all salt mills in the country to perform better and ensure all salt produced is adequately iodized. We, at Nutrition International, are committed to working alongside the Bangladesh government to eliminate iodine deficiency in the country.”

Health and Family Welfare Minister Mohammad Nasim, MP spoke of the need to boost the public’s understanding of iodized salt.

“Lack of awareness of the benefits of iodized salt is still high. It is very important that people understand why they should consume iodized salt. Our Government is taking a number of steps to increase awareness on these issues.”

Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation Chairman Mustak Hassan Md Iftekhar said the awards will help to bring about a spirit of competition among the salt mill owners and hopefully lead to increased production of quality iodized salt.

Today, the World Health Organization estimates that iodine deficiency disorders pose a public health threat to more than one billion people around the world. In Bangladesh, only 57.6% of households are currently consuming adequately iodized salt.