Turkmenistan, with a population of 4.8 million, has become the fourth country in the world to ensure that all salt used in cooking is iodized, thereby heading off likely brain damage, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said today.
UNICEF Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe Maria Callvis gave an award to the Turkmen Government for reaching the universal salt iodization (USI) goal already reached by Bhutan, the former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia and Panama.
"USI is the most effective way to protect children from iodine deficiency - the world's leading cause of preventable mental retardation and brain damage. So this award is a major milestone for Turkmenistan. This is the first country in Central Asia - and only the fourth country worldwide - to reach this target," Ms. Callvis said.
UNICEF provided technical support to the programme for about 10 years and the United States donated $200,000, UNICEF said.