The Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC), with the financial and technical support of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), today convened a day-long national workshop on improving access to quality iodized salt for Bangladeshis.
Led by key government and industry partners, the workshop aimed to: build a shared understanding and consensus on Quality Assurance and Quality Control (QA/QC) measures; identify better delivery models; and create an enabling environment for salt mill owners and consumers. Ultimately, the day helped to facilitate decisions on how to achieve universal access to quality iodized salt for the most marginalized people, with a special focus on children and women.
The Government of Bangladesh first committed to eliminating iodine deficiencies in 1989, when it established the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorder (CIDD) Project within the Small and Cottage Industries Corporation, under the Ministry of Industries. Since then, the project has focused on the quality of iodised salt from production to consumption, and the Ministry has committed to supplying adequate iodised salt for 90% of households by 2016. The Ministry receives ongoing support from GAIN and its partner on the USI Partnership Project, UNICEF, as well as the Micronutrient Initiative. GAIN and the Ministry have committed to working together to strengthen QA/QC of USI in the country.
By including salt-related businesses (producers, wholesaler and retailers) and other key stakeholders, the workshop built consensus on better monitoring and law enforcement in the production, procurement and sale of adequately iodised salt, among. It also strengthened links between the responsible ministries, ie the Ministry of Industries, and other line ministries, ie the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Home, Ministry of Commerce, and Ministry of Food.
Mr. Amir Hossain Amu, MP, Honourable Minister, Ministry of Industries, said: “I congratulate the BSCIC and GAIN for organising such a timely workshop to work out a strategy to increase the coverage of adequately iodized salt from the present 58% to 90% by 2016. I would like business enterprises to supply iodised salt at an affordable price to the most vulnerable people. I also reiterate that the government will support the millers to improve their facilities so they can produce adequately iodized salt. I look forward to GAIN’s technical support for both the salt iodisation and edible oil fortification programs.”
Mr. M. M. Neazuddin, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said: “The government of Bangladesh is committed to supporting the cause to combat iodine deficiency through Universal Salt Iodisation in the country.” He reiterated that the Ministry of Health will provide leadership to disseminate the message, ensure enforcement, and provide strategic guidance and support to make it a successful program.
Mr. Md. Farhad Uddin, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Industries, said: “The effort will play a key role in ensuring availability of adequately iodised salt in the consumer market to help eliminate iodine deficiency. I appreciate GAIN’s efforts and look forward to GAIN’s technical leadership in quality assurance/quality control support for the Project and salt millers in the country.”
Mr. Shyam Sunder Sikder, Chairman BSCIC, said: “BSCIC will develop a sustainable model so that the activity of the present project can be transformed into a regular program to support the government in monitoring the USI program, and so that 90% of Bangladeshis can consume adequately iodised salt. I look forward to support from GAIN stakeholders, different ministries and millers in this endeavour.”
Marc Van Ameringen, Executive Director, GAIN, said: “Bangladesh has always been a role model in nutrition. The partnership, policy and political commitment will bring a significant improvement of iodised salt quality that can benefit the most marginalized.”