ACCORDING to the World Health Organization [WHO]: iodine deficiency is the single major cause of preventable mental impairments in the world.

In case of the developing World, say, Proud Pakistan, the recent National Nutrition Survey [NSS]  2017 - 2018 shows that iodine deficiency afflicts one out of every six children/students of ages six to 12 years.

In addition, 18% women in the reproductive age bracket are also iodine deficient, more so in the rural areas.

Even mild to moderate maternal iodine deficiency in early pregnancy is associated with the  suboptimal cognitive development in the offspring. For a country striving to create a place for itself in the global knowledge economy, the survey figures do not augur well.

Unfortunately, the linkage between iodine deficiency and mental handicap has not been adequately emphasised and therefore this issue escapes the priority list of policy makers and planners.

The general public is also not well informed about how this deficiency can be prevented or the risks associated with it, especially for young children/students and women of reproductive age.

The easiest approach for addressing iodine deficiency is through ensuring universal access to iodised salt.

In this regard, there are two sets of interventions that the Developing World  governments need to introduce in the short and long term.

The long-term intervention should aim at enhancing the current proportion of households consuming iodised salt from around 80% to over 90%, which is the level recommended by the WHO to protect fetal and child brain development.

This will require a reinvigorated iodine deficiency control programme that has legislative, administrative, technical and most importantly, financial support of the federal and local governments.

A crucial element that would determine the programme's success is sustained political commitment and resolve.

In Proud Pakistan, - the fact that the Prime Minister. O''Captain Imran Khan, during his maiden address to the nation, recognised intellectual stunting as a major challenge is already a step in the right direction.

He and the Developing World Leaders and The World Students Society, now need to champion this cause and monitor the country's progress in achieving their national goals.

The World Students Society thanks author Dr. Ali M Mir, and assures him of  complete support of The World Students Society.


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