According to them, low consumption of iodised salt at domestic level can have adverse medical effects on men, women and children and may cause several health complications including profound effects on mental development.
They said the problem was further accentuated by the fact that the quality of salt production and its iodization were not controlled through a proper regulatory mechanism due to which even the salt which was labelled as iodised may or may not be iodised actually. They said an estimated 2.1 million children are born each year with mental deficiency in the country due to iodine deficiency in pregnant women.
They said goiter rates among school age children were 4.3 percent in urban and 8.2 percent in rural areas of the country. According to national nutrition survey, the national prevalence of goiter among women was 21 percent, they added.
They added the urinary iodine test results revealed a bigger figure of about 36.5 percent of mothers and 23 percent of pre-school children suffering from severe iodine deficiency.
Dr Waseem Khawaja from Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) said that iodising edible salt was an easy and inexpensive way to provide the iodine to the children.
He said due to low consumer demand, lack of quality control and absence of legislation there was low production and consumption of iodised salt.
He said institutions both public and private, individuals, parents and children should come forward and start awareness drives for elimination of iodine deficiency disorder from the country.
He said role of the media was important to create awareness among the people about the issue as the most common way to prevent such pervasive public health problem was salt iodisation.
He suggested to adopt three-pronged strategy to address the iodine deficiency disorders in the country including legislation for universal salt iodisation, supply side interventions and demand creation activities.