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PIA Press Release
2008/01/22

Nation observes January 21-27 Goiter Awareness Week, Asin Law implementation

Tacloban City (January 22) -- For the second year since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on December 11, 2006 signed Proclamation No. 1188, the whole country is commemorating the January 21-27, the fourth week of January as Goiter Awareness Week.

In signing the Proclamation, President Arroyo stressed the need to promote a sustained information and education of the population on the prevention of goiter and other thyroid disorders.

The Department of Health (DOH) has been designated as the lead agency in conducting information dissemination, education and training, research and preventive measures like the use of iodized salt to prevent goiter.

There is a need for the various stakeholders to work together to fight goiter through concerted efforts in raising awareness against goiter and to stress the importance of preventing this formidable disease which affects women under reproductive age and school children aged seven years old onwards.

It has always been said that a goiter maybe a temporary problem that will remedy itself overtime without medical intervention or it could be a symptom of another, possibly severe thyroid condition that requires urgent medical attention.

Goiter or the enlargement of the thyroid gland is considered prevalent in the Philippines. This disease in thyroid glands is classified as an endemic, meaning present continuously in a community, or sporadic goiter.

Based on the studies on urinary iodine levels conducted by the Department of Health, most goiter cases are found in the mountainous provinces and other remote areas of the country, where children and pregnant women are mostly affected.

Some inland residents however, may have goiter because of insufficient iodine intake in their diet aside from eating a lot of goitrogenic foods, which are found in cabbage, soybeans, peanuts, peaches, strawberries, spinach, and radishes. Other people living in remote areas are discovered to have goiter because of iron deficiency due to poverty.

Pregnant women and children are prone to goiter because they are in the stage of hormonal changes. Iodine deficiency during pregnancy results in decreased maternal and neonatal thyroid hormone secretion. Adequate amount of thyroid hormone is crucial for brain development in the first and second trimester of pregnancy, however, there are two types, so there is a need to identify first what is the cause of the goiter before treating.

The most common cause of goiter in the country is iron deficiency, but this condition is curable by mass food-supplementation with iodine.

This brings to mind the ASIN Law which was passed in 1995 which directed the iodization of salt and which until now has not yet been fully implemented.

The use of iodized table salt prevents Hypothyroidism, while limiting goitrogenic foods and drugs prevents Hyperthyroidism. This does not mean that one should not eat goitrogenic foods especially vegetables. Goitrogenic foods help thyroid hormones to function normally, but to achieve this purpose, the thyroid hormones must be present in the body in correct amount - not too little and not too much.

Unfortunately, only about 50 percent of Filipinos use iodized salt, more than twelve years after Republic Act 8172 or ASIN Law was signed on December 20, 1995 aimed to end iodine deficiency syndrome described as a silent but a tremendous nutritional problem among Filipinos.

The salt iodization program is also aimed to breed Filipinos who are healthier, more intelligent, empowered and globally competitive.

The government is still addressing the situation by an intensive information drive about the benefits of iodized salt and performing health related programs. The best way to avoid goiter is to eat lot of sea foods, milk and dairy products, bread, and fruits. (PIA 8) [top]

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