Tagged: Iodine Deficiency Crisis

Cambodia Faces Iodine Deficiency Crisis

Rathana Ung

Rathana Ung

Rathana Ung is a community-focused volunteer who has engaged with charity organizations in building dwellings and a floating school in Cambodia. Rathana Ung also assisted in the construction of a maternity hospital in a remote part of the country that did not have physicians or nurses readily available.

As reported in The New York Times, one pressing issue facing Cambodians involves ensuring sufficient iodine in their diet. With Cambodia lacking in natural iodine, the country set in place a mandatory program of potassium iodate spraying on locally produced salt. This 2003 initiative was seen as essential to preventing iodine deficiencies, which cause swollen thyroid glands and goiters as well as cretinism and dwarfism.

The nuclear disaster at Fukushima, Japan, in 2011 had an unintended effect of making the cost of iodine, much of which is sourced from coastal well brine associated with natural gas drilling, much higher. Raw iodine price spikes have led to non-iodized salt flooding the market and those existing at the margins of society failing to obtain sufficient quantities of iodine.

One silver lining is that iodine deficiency is a long term health issue. The thyroid is efficient as a storage vehicle and there is a 5-10 year window before which lack of iodine leads to brain damage and goiters.