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FDA to ensure all salt being consumed in Ghana is iodised

The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), has in line with its mandate of protecting public health and safety, purchased some test kits for stakeholders to check the iodine levels in salt being consumed in the country.

The Authority is, in the interim, preparing to distribute them to, especially traders and dealers in salt to conduct the test before they sell to the consuming public.

Announcing this at the re-launch of Ghana’s Universal Salt Iodization (USI) strategy in Accra, Dr Delese Mimi Darko, Chief Executive Officer, FDA, said preparation was underway to train traders in the use of the iodine test kits.

Iodine, is an essential nutrient, required for human bodies to produce thyroid hormones that control the metabolism and many other bodily functions.

It is also a mineral that is essential during pregnancy and infancy for proper bone formation and brain and nervous system development.

Experts say iodine deficiency in both humans and animals has adverse implications on health, collectively termed Iodine Def
iciency Disorders (IDDs).

These include still births, congenital defects and decreased cognitive capacity, infant mortality, delayed physical development, and goitre.

Mrs Darko explained at the re-launching event held in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and UNICEF that currently, salt iodization practices among artisanal salt producers in the country was poor.

‘A survey conducted by the FDA in December 2022, revealed that nearly 70 per cent of artisanal salt producers do not apply iodine during processing, while 100 per cent of rock salt sampled from major markets in Greater Accra were not iodized.

‘Additionally, iodate content of 50 per cent of prepackaged salt sampled were below standard,’ Mr Darko stated.

Presently, there were no strict enforcement and monitoring regimes for edible salt iodization in commerce, although there was a mandatory requirement outlined in the Public Health Act 2012, Act 851.

Accordingly, it had been reported that household consumption of adequately iodized s
alt in Ghana was far lower than the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended 90 per cent household consumption, i.e., approximately 39 per cent of Ghanaian households consume adequately iodized salt (Ghana Demographic Health Survey, 2014).

Mrs Darko said the findings had necessitated efforts to revive the USI programme with specific emphasis on strengthening enforcement.

She said generally, inadequate iodine nutrition and IDDs were global health concerns, which have been the subject of discussions at many international summits since the 1990s.

Accordingly, in 1994, WHO recommended USI as a global strategy to facilitate adequate iodine nutrition for all individuals.

With this strategy, WHO sought to attain a minimum of 90 per cent household consumption of adequately iodized salt to facilitate eradication of IDDs.

Mrs Darko explained that Ghana enacted its USI under the Food and Drugs Act 523 in 1996, and developed and implemented the USI strategic plans I (2005 – 2007) and USI strategic plans II (2009
– 2011) through the National Salt Iodization Committee.

‘In accordance with Section 107 of the Public Health Act, 2012, Act 851, only iodised salt for human and animal consumption shall be imported, manufactured and traded in Ghana,’ she emphasized.

Section 97 of the Public Health Act further states that a person commits an offence if that person imports unregistered salt, exports, distributes, supplies, sells, or exposes for sale, unregistered salt.

She said with the support of UNICEF, the FDA had introduced mechanisms to strengthen enforcement of the salt standards.

‘The existing enforcement activities such as inspections, licensing and compliance monitoring of salt have been strengthened to achieve effective monitoring.

She encouraged all salt producer associations and artisanal salt producers, large-scale salt manufacturers, salt storage facility operators and salt transporters to regularise their operations with the FDA.

Mr Samuel Gbogbo, Programme Manager, Iodine Deficiency Programme, GHS, in a pr
esentation disclosed that Ghana had been promoting the iodised salt for about a decade to among others, help prevent IDDs like mental retardation, poor growth, increased infant mortality, and low IQs among children in schools.

However, since the inception of the programme, household iodised salt had improved but a 2022 survey revealed that salt in the urban cities have more iodine in them than those in the rural centres, while the Central, Oti and Eastern regions were the least performances in salt with iodine.

He, therefore, called for the strengthening of consumer campaigns, adding that all salt sold in Ghana should have the required standards.

Dr Joycelyn Naa Korkoi Azeez, Director of Pharmacy, Ministry of Health, described Iodine deficiency as a silent threat, and encouraged all stakeholders to work towards a future where everyone attained iodine sufficiency and break the cycle of diseases that occur due to the lack of iodine consumption.

‘The re-lelaunch is a call to action, so all stakeholders, CSOs
, and individuals should support the campaign to make the country attain iodine sufficiency objectives,’ she stated.

Madam Mercy Naa Afrowa Nii Gyan, Makola Market Queen, urged her fellow traders to support the initiative, which would help improve the general well-being of all the people.

‘This re-launch should be the last one…Let’s all support and ensure that the salt we sell are iodised.’.

Source: Ghana News Agency