This week is “thyroid awareness week” in Australia. A short interview on ABC radio yesterday discussed the increase in thyroid disease in Australia due, in part, to declining consumption of idodised salt (in preference for more trendy alternatives such as sea salt). The interview reminded me of the prevalence of thyroid disease that I had observed in northern Laos in the mid-1990s. Especially in more remote areas the incidence of goitre seemed to be shockingly high. Apparently there have been significant improvements since then, with iodised salt now widespread throughout the country and a dramatic reduction in iodine deficiency. As the sign outside a salt mine in Savannakhet boasts (in English):
On behalf of the iodne: The isthmus protected weakness the grewuplate foolish and sickness without the iodine. If eaten the food cooked with the iodine everyday especially the women have the pregnanted and have the child in the stomuch.
Something has certainly been lost in the translation! But the Lao achievements in addressing this important public health issue should be acknowledged. And the rest of us should be checking what sort of salt is going on our meals.