Iodine Global Network
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Iodine Global Network

The Iodine Global Network is the leading global organization supporting the elimination of iodine deficiency, the most common cause of brain damage in newborns. IGN supports healthy iodine nutrition in virtually every country of the world through a safe, effective, and affordable solution: iodized salt.

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Established
1986
Annually
US$0.05
to protect a person from iodine deficiency
Only
19
countries aren't meeting population iodine nutrition needs

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. [1] [2]

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. [3] [4]

Iodine deficiency is the leading cause of preventable mental impairment in the world.
Little girl in red shirt doing a puzzle

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.” [5] [6]

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.

Woman in green dress hugging little girl in red dress

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. [7]

What makes Iodine Global Network so effective


Cost-effectiveness

Salt iodization is extremely inexpensive – an estimated US$0.02–$0.05 per person per year. Every $100 invested impacts an estimated 10,000 individuals per year. 

Established leadership

IGN draws on nearly 30 years of expertise from governments, researchers, salt industry representatives, and partner organizations.

Compounding impact

Improving nutrition has a ripple effect on education, poverty, and equality. Iodizing salt yields an estimated $30 in economic productivity per dollar spent. [8]

A truly global network

IGN works in virtually every country in the world through a network of regional and national coordinators who work in the field, as well as national governments to catalyze salt iodization initiatives.

Iodine Global Network’s accountability and sustainability

IGN openly shares detailed information about its programs and posts all of its financial reports and documents for public viewing on its website. [9]

IGN facilitates partnerships and communication between businesses, nonprofits, national governments, and local communities. They work to share expertise and secure long-term iodine supplies to ensure that programs continue long after they have left.

Recognition for Iodine Global Network

Rigorous charity evaluator GiveWell lists IGN as a Standout Charity. In 2014, Good Ventures awarded a US$250,000 grant to help facilitate their salt iodization programming. [10] [11]

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s an example of the IGN’s work and impact?

IGN works in countries to help establish USI, such as in Sudan where they have brought together the Government, salt producers, and development partners to develop a comprehensive long-term plan of action on iodine, which led to the procurement of salt iodization equipment and an improved salt industry. IGN also works with groups to encourage the use of iodized salt in processed foods and condiments, such as bouillon, increasing the supply and availability of dietary iodine. [12][13]

Thanks to sustainable Universal Salt Iodization programs, millions of newborns have been protected from brain damage, and more than 750 million cases of goiter have been prevented over the past 25 years. We are on the verge of eliminating iodine deficiency worldwide in the next few years.

What will my donation pay for?

All donated funds support activities and projects at the national, regional, and global levels to catalyze salt iodization programs. Every $100 invested protects 10,000 individuals per year.

Why does The Life You Can Save recommend Iodine Global Network?

We recommend IGN because they have been named a Standout Charity by GiveWell, one of our two charity evaluators. [14]

Is my donation tax-deductible?