Eastern and Southern African Governments Commit to Preventing and Controlling Iodine Deficiency Disorders

A declaration on sustainable optimal iodine nutrition in Eastern and Southern Africa was issued at the end of the Universal Salt Iodization and Iodine Deficiency Disorders Consultation Forum 2019, which brought together 75 experts in Mombasa, Kenya, November 5-7.

The Mombasa Declaration on Sustainable Optimal Iodine Nutrition in Eastern and Southern Africa, signed by 75 participants representing 16 countries, contains several commitments by nutrition stakeholders emphasizing the importance of ensuring optimal iodine intake of all segments of a population, with a focus on women and children, through universal salt iodization (USI.)

The Mombasa Forum was a follow-up to a similar forum held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in June 2015, which was hosted by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of Tanzania, in collaboration with the Iodine Global Network (IGN) and UNICEF.

The main objectives of this year’s forum were to:

  • Review progress on the implementation of the recommendations of the 2015 workshop;
  • Share country experience and lessons in the coordination, implementation and monitoring of national iodine deficiency disorders programs;
  • Share the salt industry experiences on innovations to achieve USI in the region; and
  • Agree on measures to ensure sustainability of quality and coverage of USI to 2020 and beyond.

The Mombasa Declaration confirms the countries’ commitment to prevent and control iodine deficiency disorders through sustainable optimal iodine intake.

“Nutrition International has played a significant part in the success of salt iodization so far, but we know there is still more work to do,” said Richard Pendame, Nutrition International’s Regional Director for Africa, and participant in the forum. “About one billion people still don’t have access to iodized salt, and that means they are still at risk of iodine deficiency disorders. Nutrition International is still committed to working hand in glove with key stakeholders including governments, the private sector, regional bodies and implementing partners in the East and Southern Africa regions to sustain the gains that have been achieved to date.”

Nutrition International has been working for more than a decade towards universal salt iodization around the world by scaling up and expanding the adoption of iodized salt by governments and key producers.

Key participants at the forum included representatives from governments, NGOs and salt producers from Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The forum was organized by Kenya’s Ministry of Health in collaboration with IGN, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, Nutrition International and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition.

You can read the full Declaration here.