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November 12, 2013
Salt Iodization: A Health Program that Feeds Economic Growth

The Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development, visits Canadian-supported salt iodization program in Senegal Dakar, Senegal

Dakar, Senegal - Today, the Micronutrient Initiative welcomed the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and Minister of La Francophonie, to our salt iodization project in Lac Rose. The Minister witnessed how Canada´s investments in global nutrition are improving health and economic development for people in Senegal.

“I am immensely proud of the role that the Micronutrient Initiative plays around the world, supporting Governments, like that of Senegal, as they increase the health and nutrition of their citizens. Their economic development model delivers health benefits across West Africa while, at the same time, supporting sustainable economic growth,” said Minister Paradis. “We know private sector-led economic growth is key to breaking the cycle of poverty and dependence. I saw the results of that first hand today in Lac Rose.”

Salt iodization has been hailed as a global health success story – over the past few decades global iodization rates have increased from 30 to 70 percent but there are still gaps in reaching the most vulnerable. Forty million newborns annually are born at risk of preventable but permanent brain damage every year because their mothers are iodine deficient. In collaboration with the Government of Senegal, MI is leading iodization efforts by working with small, local salt producers in providing simple and easy iodization techniques to reach those households that are still not consuming iodized salt.

“We are very pleased to showcase Lac Rose as a model project to Minister Paradis and to demonstrate the important work that is being undertaken with Canadian support to improve nutrition and reduce poverty in Senegal,” said Banda Ndiaye, Sahel Country Director for MI.

Senegal, a Francophonie country, faces great development and nutrition challenges, including high rates of iron deficiency and anaemia among women and children. MI´s work in Senegal also includes important maternal, newborn and child health initiatives and child survival projects that tackle micronutrient deficiencies in the country´s most vulnerable populations. The country has achieved almost 100% coverage with two doses of vitamin A, a flagship Canadian child survival program.

Senegal was the first country chosen by MI to implement the Zinc Alliance for Child Health (ZACH) initiative to scale up the use of zinc and oral rehydration salts (ORS) to treat diarrhoea, one of the country´s greatest killers of children. Treating diarrhoea in children with zinc and ORS is recognized as a high impact solution that supports Canada´s maternal and under-five child health objectives. ZACH, a partnership between MI, Teck and the Government of Canada, is a successful example of Canadian innovation to solve global health challenges.

“It is important that the people of Canada know that through their generosity and through their government´s commitment to reducing micronutrient deficiencies and improve nutrition, we are able save and improve lives through sustainable work here in Lac Rose and throughout Senegal.” Mr. Ndiaye said.

For more information about the work of the Micronutrient Initiative in Senegal, please visit our website.