Borat's Kids - So Iodized Now
This is an interesting example of how much progress can be made in a public health effort in a short time.
In fact, Kazakhstan has become an example of how even a vast and still-developing nation like this Central Asian country can achieve a remarkable public health success. In 1999, only 29 percent of its households were using iodized salt. Now, 94 percent are. Next year, the United Nations is expected to certify it officially free of iodine deficiency disorders.
So, why is this important?
Worldwide, about two billion people — a third of the globe — get too little iodine, including hundreds of millions in India and China. Studies show that iodine deficiency is the leading preventable cause of mental retardation. Even moderate deficiency, especially in pregnant women and infants, lowers intelligence by 10 to 15 I.Q. points, shaving incalculable potential off a nation’s development.
The most visible and severe effects — disabling goiters, cretinism and dwarfism — affect a tiny minority, usually in mountain villages. But 16 percent of the world’s people have at least mild goiter, a swollen thyroid gland in the neck.
“Find me a mother who wouldn’t pawn her last blouse to get iodine if she understood how it would affect her fetus,” said Jack C. S. Ling, chairman of the International Council for Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders, a committee of about 350 scientists formed in 1985 to champion iodization.
It costs about $1.15 to iodize a ton of salt. This is a great example of some of the low hanging fruit out there for Bill Gates and Warren Buffet's billions.