Tuguegarao City, Cagayan Valley – The Department of Health (DOH), together with partner agencies and local government units of Cagayan Valley, kicks off today the nationwide celebration of Goiter Awareness Week (GAW).

Pursuant to Presidential Proclamation No. 1188 signed in 2006, every 4th week of January has been declared as GAW to intensify public awareness on the prevention and control of Goiter and other Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD).

Iodine is an important micronutrient needed by the body to achieve optimum mental and physical development. Goiter is the enlargement of the thyroid gland due to deficit of iodine or other causes such as autoimmune disease, inflammation, new growth and other medical conditions.

The 2013 National Nutrition Survey revealed that about 5.8 million Filipinos were afflicted with thyroid disorders in different clinical presentations. If untreated, these disorders could lead to detrimental reduction of intellectual and physical capacity. These are manifested as goiter, thyroid malignancy, mental deficiency, physical deformities, congenital hypothyroidism, stunting, reproductive failure, and even death among susceptible individuals.

Maintaining last year’s theme,“Goiter Sugpuin, Isip Patalinuhin, Iodized Salt Gamitin”, today’s celebration of GAW encourages the utilization of quality iodized salt in households and food establishments throughout the country. This can be realized through the development of a policy to institutionalize the national program on Thyroid Disorder Prevention and Control.

“Iodine deficiency disorders are recognized as one of our country’s major nutrition challenges that must be addressed by a comprehensive program direction through the development of a national policy. I therefore encourage every Filipino household to use iodized salt exclusively as it is a simple and practical way of getting sufficient iodine from their daily diets to prevent goiter and other thyroid disorders,” Health Secretary Francisco T. DuqueIII said.

The government protects and promotes the health of the people by fostering proper nutrition through cost-effective preventive measures such as salt iodization. The DOH, through the Food and Drug Administration, sets and enforces standards for iodized salt and monitors compliance of salt manufacturers and distributors to ensure that the salt being sold in markets and retail stores is properly iodized.

“Extensive information dissemination and educational efforts with our partner agencies are required to capacitate the public. I laud the efforts of our partner local chief executives in developing their own ordinances for thyroid disorder prevention and control among their constituents,” the health chief concluded.