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Thursday, December 21, 2023

Caraga nutrition council taps Bantay Asin task force in fight vs iodine deficiency  

By Jennifer P. Gaitano

The National Nutrition Council (NNC) in Caraga has intensified its advocacy against iodine deficiency, which accordingly affects humans’ health as well as economic productivity and quality of life.

This was emphasized during the Regional Bantay Asin Task Force (RBATF) and Local Bantay Asin Task Force (LBATF) of the local government units of Agusan del Norte as members discussed the necessary measures to ensure the supply and distribution of only adequately-iodized salt within the region and be able to support and strengthen the monitoring of Asin Law, especially at the barangay level.

Dr. Archie Niño Labordo, Regional Nutrition Program Coordinator of NNC-Caraga, stressed that iodine is a trace mineral essential in making thyroid hormones that control the body’s metabolism and other vital functions, especially during pregnancy and infancy. 

“Iodine Deficiency Disorder is one of the most common micronutrient deficiencies that results from insufficient iodine in the diet. Micronutrients like iodine are needed by the body in small amounts. And although necessary in minimal amounts, deficiency of these nutrients has negative effects on the body that can lead to life-threatening health conditions,” relayed Dr. Labordo.

Labordo also reiterated that prolonged inadequate intake of iodine leads to reduced intellectual and physical capacity, which may manifest as goiter, mental retardation, hypothyroidism, physical and mental defects, and cretinism. 

“In pregnant women, iodine deficiency may also result in abortion, stillbirth, and congenital anomalies, among others,” he added.

Nutrition Officer III Leah Vina Vargas shared the latest Expanded National Nutrition Survey (ENNS) of the Department of Science and Technology – Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) related to iodized salt. 

The ENNS showed that, on iodine status, pockets of iodine deficiency exist among the elderly. Meanwhile, iodine deficiency was still a public health concern among lactating mothers and pregnant women, as iodine intake remained insufficient for the past 10 years (2008 to 2018-2019). 

“In Agusan del Norte, only 47.6 percent,  or 5 out of 10 households, use adequately iodized salt. The level of iodine in household salt should not be lower than 15 parts per million (ppm) and salt in the market should have at least 30-70 ppm,” said Vargas.

Vargas further emphasized that the NNC has tapped the Local Bantay Asin Task Force from the different municipalities through its sanitary inspectors and municipal nutrition program coordinators to intensify the campaign in every household in the barangays.

Nutritionist-Dietitian IV Teresita Lina Medrano of the Department of Health (DOH) Caraga encouraged the LBATFs to continuously conduct activities that will advocate and monitor the selling and use of iodized salt and food-fortified products to prevent hidden hunger. 

“Hidden hunger, or micronutrient deficiencies, occurs when the quality of food that people eat does not meet their nutrient requirements, so they are not getting the essential vitamins and minerals they need for their growth and development. It affects two billion people across the globe (FAO),” shared Medrano.

Meanwhile, Project Development Officer I, Cristal Gale Gumban, and Provincial Sanitary Inspector Dickson Go demonstrated how to test the iodized salt and calibrate the WYD iodine checker machine.

Republic Act 8172, “An Act Promoting Salt Iodization Nationwide (ASIN) and For Related Purposes,” was signed into law on December 20, 1995 by former president Fidel V. Ramos. (JPG, PIA-Caraga/NNC-Caraga)