The problem: iodine deficiency
Iodine is a crucial nutrient for healthy brain development. When populations are deficient, pregnant women and newborns are disproportionately affected — iodine deficiencies can lead to cognitive and developmental impairment, as well as miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant mortality.
A lot of progress has been made to address iodine deficiency. Today, 88% of the global population has access to iodized salt, with only 19 countries not meeting population iodine nutrition needs — down from 54 countries in 2003, and 113 in 1993.  
But 2.2 billion people still live in areas at risk of iodine deficiency. It’s still the leading cause of preventable mental impairment in the world.  
The solution: salt iodization
Fortunately, iodine deficiency can be prevented easily and affordably by adding a small amount of iodine to the salt we consume. The Copenhagen Consensus considers it one of the best investment strategies in international development, and rigorous charity evaluator GiveWell notes, “There is strong evidence that salt iodization programs have a significant, positive effect on children’s cognitive development and do so cost-effectively.”  
How the Iodine Global Network works
The IGN and its partners have committed to eliminating iodine deficiency in all countries by 2020. Achieving and maintaining this goal would be a public health triumph on par with the eradication of polio and smallpox.
Like many charities, IGN works directly with affected communities, but their key strength lies in catalyzing collective action. Eliminating iodine deficiency requires harmonization of diverse stakeholders:
- the salt industry to source, process, and iodize raw salt
- governments to mandate and monitor programs
- civil society to create demand
- development partners to support programs on the ground
IGN facilitates collaboration between these partners to deliver iodine nutrition at the national level in countries around the world. They advocate for political will and national awareness, provide technical assistance, and align iodine elimination with the broader nutrition agenda. In addition, IGN investigates scientific questions to help the communities most vulnerable to iodine nutrition, particularly mothers and newborn infants.
Salt iodization programs have already helped to achieve healthy iodine nutrition in all but 19 countries of the world. IGN sustains and facilitates progress, and tracks it through a Global Iodine Scorecard. They track and catalyze global food fortification efforts in partnership with the Food Fortification Initiative, GAIN, and Micronutrient Forum, through the Global Fortification Data Exchange.