Home | WHPA Press Releases | The Nurses, Pharmacists and Physicians of the World Plead for India to Utilise Only Iodised Salt

World Medical Association [WMA]
International Council of Nurses (ICN)
International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP)



The Nurses, Pharmacists and Physicians of the World Plead for India to Utilise Only Iodised Salt

Fact Sheet - Iodine Deficiency

GENEVA, Switzerland, 27 November 2000  ----  The international organisations representing the world's doctors, nurses and pharmacists have launched a plea for Indian Prime Minister Bihari Vajpayee to make only iodised salt available throughout India.  The World Medical Association (WMA), the International Council of Nurses (ICN) and the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) have joined together to counter the recent decision of the Indian government to lift the ban on non-iodised salt.

"Iodine deficiency (IDD) is the single, most preventable cause of mental retardation and iodised salt is the cheapest and most effective way to combat this scourge, " said Dr Delon Human, CEO of the World Medical Association.  "Adding iodine to salt is a simple manufacturing process costing no more than US$ 0.04 per person annually. "

"Children with IDD can grow up stunted, apathetic, mentally retarded and incapable of normal movement, speech or hearing.  Even marginal deficiency may reduce a child's mental development by about 10%", explained Judith Oulton, Chief Executive of the International Council of Nurses.  "India has been highly effective in reducing the incidence of IDD recently and key to their success thus far has been the commitment to make only iodised salt available."

"Iodised salt is the first choice for intervention because it is universally and regularly consumed and therefore we can be certain that iodine is entering the diet of all citizens," added Ton Hoek, General Secretary of the International Pharmaceutical Federation.  "This is particularly important in areas of India where chronic flooding has leeched iodine from the soil so that it is no longer present in food products."

In 1990, the World Summit for Children, UNICEF and the World Health Organization committed to virtually eliminate IDD by promoting the iodisation of salt and its use.  To date, while global significant progress towards reducing iodine deficiency disorders has taken place over the past decade, much still remains to be accomplished.   




The World Health Professions Alliance brings together medicine, nursing and pharmacy through their representative international organisations, International Council of Nurses (ICN), International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) and the World Medical Association (WMA) and represents more than 20 million health professionals worldwide.


  • The International Council of Nurses (ICN) is a federation of 125 national nurses' associations representing the millions of nurses worldwide.  Operated by nurses for nurses since 1899, ICN is the international voice of nursing and works to ensure quality care for all and sound health policies globally.

  • The International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) is the worldwide federation of national associations of pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists. Pharmacists are health care professionals dedicated to improving access to and value of appropriate medicine use worldwide.   

  • The World Medical Association (WMA) is a global federation of national medical associations, representing the millions of physicians worldwide.  Acting on behalf of physicians and patients, the WMA endeavours to achieve the highest possible standards of medical science, education, ethics and health care for all people.


For further information contact Linda Carrier-Walker Tel :  +41 22  908 0100;
fax :   +41 22  908 0101;  email:  ; Web site  www.icn.ch 

ICN/PR/00 #18


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