In the effort to combat goiter, the Department of Health (DOH) is partnering with various government agencies and private organizations to scale up promotion of the use of iodized salt.
According to DOH, about 5.8 million Filipinos were afflicted with thyroid disorders with various clinical presentations, based on the 2013 National Nutrition Survey of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
These disorders are manifested as goiter, thyroid malignancy, mental deficiency, physical deformities, congenital hypothyroidism, cretinism, and reproductive failure.
If left untreated, these disorders could lead to the detrimental reduction of intellectual and physical capacity and even death among susceptible individuals, the DOH said.
The DOH said it has partnered with the Philippine Thyroid Association, Philippine Society of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Iodine Global Network, National Nutrition Council and DOST-Food and Nutrition Research Institute to highlight the vital role of iodized salt in preventing thyroid disorders.
Through this collaboration, they will scale up the information and education campaign on the effects of iodine deficiency, the DOH said.
Based on the 2012 Philippine Thyroid Diseases Study (PhilTiDes-1), the prevalence of thyroid function abnormalities in the Philippines is 8.53 percent among the adult population, and among thyroid disorders, goiter is most common with a prevalence rate of 10.12 percent.
“People with goiter often have an abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland which can lead to the appearance of a mass or swelling in the neck,” the DOH said.
The signs and symptoms of goiter can be varied and may include tiredness, a decrease or increase in weight, low or increased appetite, depression, dryness of skin and hair, sleepiness, diarrhea or constipation and menstrual irregularities for women.
People who experience these symptoms should immediately see a doctor.
Since iodine deficiency is the most common cause of goiter in the Philippines, the DOH said people are advised to use iodized salt in their meals and to eat food rich in iodine such as dairy products, seafood such as shellfish and seaweeds, meats, bread and eggs.
“Special attention should be provided to pregnant women because iodine deficiency during this critical period can cause premature birth, miscarriage or delivery of a baby with low intellect,” the DOH said.