Iodine-enriched salt has been widely distributed in southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region as part of a government drive to eradicate iodine deficiency, an official with the regional commerce department said Monday.
Iodine-enriched salt was available in 91.2 percent of Tibet’s farming and herding areas by the end of last year, compared with 34 percent in 2005, said Ma Xiangcun, chief of the commerce department.
He said the figure was published after a joint survey by the Ministry of Health, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Information Industry in November.
He said the regional government was seeking to raise the percentage to at least 95 percent this year.
“With iodine-enriched salt being used by Tibetan families, we hope to eradicate iodine efficiency,” said Ma.
People with iodine deficiencies are prone to goiter, a swelling of the neck resulting from enlargement of the thyroid gland, which can also lead to learning disabilities.
Iodine deficiencies can also cause miscarriages in pregnant women.
The Chinese government started the iodized salt program in 1995 and gave subsidies to the needy in Tibet, Xinjiang and Qinghai, where iodine deficiencies were common.