November 2022

Your support and engagement lifts our hearts and inspires our work

At this time of the year, we at IGN reflect on how lucky we are to have your support for our work of promoting and sustaining adequate iodine nutrition. We’re also grateful because, in the last few years of competing priorities, you have stuck with us as we ensure that the problem of iodine deficiency is not forgotten.

We take your support and your contributions very seriously. Your donations go exactly where you want them to go – to the work of ensuring that salt is iodized forever. We don’t have physical offices, and our administration costs are minimal. From our small core team, to our regional coordinators, to our national coordinators (who are volunteers), we are all individuals who are driven and committed to our work.

That commitment comes from our experience and understanding of the impact of iodine deficiency on the developing brains of children. It comes from our knowledge that adequate iodine nutrition, especially during pregnancy and early childhood, helps children to learn better at school and earn better as adults. It motivates us to be watchful to make sure progress is sustained and to achieve equality of access to iodized salt.

Here are two very different examples of how your support is making a difference:

Our most-read blog of the year was one we thought we’d never have to write – about the risk to babies and young children posed by the threat of a nuclear emergency in Europe. Nuclear accidents release radioactive iodine into the atmosphere, which can be absorbed by the thyroid, increasing the risk of developing thyroid cancer. Babies and young children are at the highest risk, along with expectant mothers. Statistics show that up to half of newborns in Europe are at risk of iodine deficiency.

In the case of a nuclear emergency, the risk of thyroid cancer may be two to three times higher among children who are iodine deficient compared to children living in areas where iodine intake is adequate. All children would need supplementation in the event of an emergency, but having adequate iodine status may protect those who cannot get such supplements. Your support allows us to work with partners, including the World Health Organization, to raise awareness of the issue so that children can be protected in the midst of this uncertainty.

Between 2006 and 2015, Madagascar’s salt iodization program collapsed due to political and economic instability. A 2014 national survey showed just 21% of households used iodized salt and that on average, pregnant and non-pregnant women were iodine deficient.To rebuild national commitment, IGN conducted several missions to Madagascar, using some $50,000 of your donations for this work. These visits led to consultative workshops creating new policy and approaches, and IGN continued to provide technical expertise, convene stakeholders, and work with government and other partners such as UNICEF and USAID, leading to the creation of an action plan and identifying funding needs. This, together with the clear commitment of all stakeholders led to a $900,000 investment from USAID, allowing implementation by UNICEF and partners including IGN over a 5-year period. IGN also facilitated the Japanese donation of a significant initial amount of potassium iodate. IGN’s role as an initiator, convenor, advocate, provider of expertise was important and appreciated in this process, and we continue to follow up.

And the result: While data from 2020 indicated that about 40% of households used iodized salt, that this percentage has increased to 70%. Ultimately some 13.8 million people gained access to iodized salt from the investment equalling about 6-7 US $ cents per person.

You will see from these examples – and there are many more – that we use the funding you give us to leverage other resources or to sound the alarm if we see a problem. Together, we can create a world where the importance of iodine nutrition is understood, sustained and promoted. Thank you.