GAIN and UNICEF jointly commit to strengthen supply, demand, advocacy, and evaluation at the global level and nationally in 13 priority countries. Taken together, these four complementary components and their activities will help to build and support the capacity and systems that are essential for sustainable salt iodization programs and to measure success.
Specifically, UNICEF and GAIN will:
1. Collaborate at the global level to strengthen international coalitions to promote the importance of eliminating iodine deficiency, support the salt industry in taking on the lead role in the implementation of salt iodization programs, and provide a robust performance measurement framework to track progress towards the global goal of universal salt iodization and provide evidence of improved iodine status, and
2. Support the implementation of national level programs and build capacity of: (1) local salt industry, including salt producers, importers, and traders: (2) government support structures, including a regulatory environment to assure quality production following basic principles of good manufacturing practice, and ongoing routine monitoring of iodized salt coverage; and (3) countries to develop consumer and public awareness to foster demand creation.
A management structure has been developed that will make optimal use of each agency's capabilities and organizational orientations, while ensuring that there is coordination and integration of all program activities at the global, regional and national levels.
Anticipated Launch: December 2007
First Milestone: Formal launch of GAIN-UNICEF salt iodization partnership
Representing a departure from previous global efforts which aimed primarily to reach high levels of coverage, the partnership places emphasis on supporting those systems and capacities needed to move countries along the continuum towards program sustainability. The Partnership will apply a model that brings together the unique organizational capabilities of UNICEF and GAIN. Country level experience in working with the salt industry, strong field presence and convening of high level advocacy capacity by UNICEF will complement the broad international and national business-alliance and performance management approaches employed by GAIN to build public-private partnerships in support of sustainable national salt iodization programs.
With the targeted increase in the availability of iodized salt, it is expected that at least 790 million additional people will have access to adequate iodine intake, while approximately 20 million newborn infants will be protected from the adverse consequences of iodine deficiency over the next five years.
Iodine deficiency is the single most important preventable cause of brain damage in the world. This makes the elimination of iodine deficiency disorders critical in human resource development and enhancing capacity in countries. The implications of this preventable deficiency for the development and successful schooling of children, and national economic development, are immense.
This significant public health problem has been successfully approached in many countries through salt iodization, which is widely recognized as the most cost-effective measure to prevent iodine deficiency. Over the past fifteen years, there has been considerable success in the introduction of salt iodization programs, which have led to an overall global coverage of 70 percent from a low of 20 percent in the early 1990s. Today over 90 million newborns are protected from intellectual impairment due to salt iodization. The partnership seeks to expand this success and strengthen its sustainability.
- Strong country presence in all partnership countries at regional and national level and at sub-national level for a majority of partnership countries
- Relationship with national government, in particular, social welfare and public health sectors
- Intensive involvement in salt iodization programs and linkage with salt industry for more than a decade in most countries
- Existing structures for accumulation of national data at global level
- Vast experience in representative multi indicator surveys, including quality data on household coverage of iodized salt and urinary iodine
- Expertise in program communication and advocacy
- Effective partnerships with other agencies and groups working on elimination of iodine deficiency
- Regional and national presence covering partnership countries
- National food fortification programs in six of the partnership countries with multi-stakeholder alliances
- Business alliances mobilizing the private sector in food fortification covering 10 partnership countries
- Tested program delivery model for sustainable food fortification through market-based approaches
- Extensive experience in strengthening quality control and assurance systems
- A best practice performance management framework that measures results and impacts at country level
- Innovative program delivery model for fortification partnerships designed to utilize private sector efficiencies and effectiveness
USI has been one of the most effective strategies for elimination of IDD. While tremendous progress has been made with more than 70% of the global population having access to iodized salt, progress towards reaching the most vulnerable populations needs to be accelerated. Global elimination of IDD is achievable and within grasp but efforts needs to be sustained and scaled in a few critical countries. A handful of countries remain that host the bulk of the population still affected by IDD. Relatively, the funding required is not a lot to address the last mile challenges with USI.