Press Releases

     

    SG/SM/8939
    ICEF/1860

    16 October 2003

    CHINA “SPLENDID EXAMPLE OF PROGRESS” IN ELIMINATING
    IODINE DEFICIENCY, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS
    IN MESSAGE TO BEIJING MEETING

    NEW YORK, 15 October (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the high-level meeting on the elimination of iodine deficiency, as delivered today in Beijing by Carol Bellamy, Executive Director, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF):

    One of the most pressing challenges of our times is to make globalization work for all people.  And one way to move closer towards that goal is for governments, the United Nations system, private sector enterprises and civil society groups to forge partnerships around specific goals, and then work with creativity and determination to achieve them.  A wonderfully concrete example of that approach is what has brought you all together for this conference in Beijing: the elimination of iodine deficiency, the world’s single greatest cause of mental retardation, through universal salt iodization.

    Since the historic World Summit for Children in 1990, a tremendously effective public-private-United Nations partnership has led to more than 2 billion additional people having access to iodized salt.  As a result, 90 million newborns are now protected from brain damage, and hundreds of millions of children are performing better in school.

    China provides a splendid example of progress in this area.  Yet the job is not done.  Thirty per cent of the world’s population still lacks access to iodized salt, leaving more than 40 million children at great risk.  We owe it to them in particular, the future of our world, to ensure that they are born healthy and grow up with every chance to realize their full human potential.

    Making iodized salt available for all is one of the most affordable and effective investments we can make to build a better world for children.  You can count on the full support of the United Nations system in this effort.  Please accept my best wishes for a successful conference.

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