100m Chinese still suffer iodine deficiency
China's plan to eradicate iodine deficiency disorders by 2000 has been frustrated by chronic shortages of the indispensable element in some areas, health authorities said at a recent meeting.
The Chinese government launched a program in 1993 to eliminate iodine deficiency throughout the country by 2000. It has not yet been successful, as four provinces, two autonomous regions and one municipality failed to reach the goal, said Liu Jiayi, an official of disease control with the Ministry of Health.
Liu characterized the seven areas which have yet to stamp out the problem -- Tibet, Qinghai, Xinjiang, Sichuan, Gansu, Hainan and Chongqing -- as being located in remote sections of the country.
China has reset its goal, planning to provide enough of the element to everyone in the iodine-deficient areas within five years.
Around 100 million people in China, or some 8% of the population, suffer from a deficiency of iodine. About 2 million newly born infants in the country face the threat of iodine deficiency every year.
It is generally believed that iodized salt provides the most economic and effective way of distributing iodine. But high shipping costs have hindered the promotion of iodized salt in remote areas, said Lin Jiahua, deputy general manager of the China National Salt Industry Corporation.
Lin said that iodized salt distribution networks still cannot cover some key iodine-deficient areas.
Health education is also necessary to promote the use of iodized salt, Lin said, as people in some iodine-lack areas are accustomed to crude salt and might not choose iodized salt even if the product is available.