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Changing lives by awarding the Punjab’s Best Iodized Salt Processors
Safwan Hashmi proudly accepted the 2010 Best Salt Processor of the Year Award, on behalf of National Foods Limited, at the annual awards ceremony to recognize the Punjab's best salt processors held on January 28, 2011 in Lahore, Pakistan.
Posted on May 5, 2011
Safwan Hashmi proudly accepted the 2010 Best Salt Processor of the Year Award, on behalf of National Foods Limited, at the annual awards ceremony to recognize the Punjab’s best salt processors held on January 28, 2011 in Lahore, Pakistan.
And he has good reason to be proud of his work. By properly iodizing salt that families buy and use, Safwan is helping to reduce preventable brain damage that children and adults in Pakistan would otherwise suffer by not getting enough iodine in their diets.
“Pakistan’s salt processors truly are the backbone of Pakistan’s Universal Salt Iodization Program. Their willingness to adequately iodize salt is vital for the program’s sustainability and to make viable and lasting changes to health in Pakistan.”
Iodine deficiency is the leading preventable cause of brain damage in the world. It can greatly impair brain development in utero and during the first few years of a child’s life.
In Pakistan, 76 per cent of women and 64 per cent of the school age children are iodine deficient. Because salt is almost universally used, even in impoverished areas, and is inexpensive to buy, it is an ideal vehicle to carry iodine and is cost-effective way to prevent against iodine deficiency disorders.
The Micronutrient Initiative (MI) and the Department of Health in Pakistan have held the Best Salt Processor of the Year Awards annually since 2008 to encourage more and more salt processors to properly iodize their salt to reduce iodine deficiency disorders and improve health.
Only five salt processors, of approximately 1,000 who work in the Punjab, win these prestigious awards each year. The meticulous selection process evaluated each salt processor’s percentage of edible salt iodized, accurate record keeping, ratio of salt samples that passed quality control tests, field monitoring reports and attitude towards awareness creation among community members and consumers.
At the awards ceremony, Chief Guest Dr. Muhammad Aslam Chaudhry, Director General Health Services (DGHS) Punjab said, “the companies that are producing iodized salt are serving humanity through the elimination of iodine deficiency disorders.”
And Dr. Tausif Akhtar Janjua, MI Pakistan’s National Program Manager for Universal Salt Iodization, agrees with the Director. “Pakistan’s salt processors truly are the backbone of Pakistan’s Universal Salt Iodization Program. Their willingness to adequately iodize salt is vital for the program’s sustainability and to make viable and lasting changes to health in Pakistan.”
Dr. Tausif knows the potential impacts that the properly iodized salt that Safwan and his fellow salt processors produce could have on the health of Pakistan’s people.
Dr. Tausif said, “when a mother has access to iodized salt, it has a life-long affect; it could provide her children with the mental capacity to finish primary school, thereby allowing them better opportunities in life. Those children grow into productive adults, in turn resulting in greater overall economic benefit for the entire country.”
These resulting changes are why MI and its partners hold the awards annually. It is a way for salt processors to take pride in their crucial work and see the contribution they can make to reduce iodine deficiency disorders.
MI’s work in Pakistan to celebrate salt processors is paying off. Post-award observations indicate that winners show an enhanced level of ownership towards universal salt iodization and have become an inspiration for other salt processors as pioneers of change in their business communities.
By encouraging salt processors to take pride in their work and by educating them about the importance of properly iodizing their salt, MI has successfully turned them into agents of change that have helped increase the reach of iodized salt in Pakistan and improve lives.
Universal Salt Iodization has now been extended to all 36 districts of the Punjab Province, with Punjab salt processors processed almost 250,000 MT of adequately iodized salt, benefiting more than 90 million people.
By awarding salt processors for their achievements, MI has also indirectly made the people of Pakistan winners by significantly improving their health through the use of iodized salt.
With MI’s help, more than 70% of edible salt in Pakistan today is iodized. Through innovations such as the creation of a digital map of salt sources and producers, MI is helping to expand iodization to unreached districts, which will make iodized salt available to more than 157 million people.
Best Salt Processor Award Winners: