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Iodized salt distributed to all rural townhips in Tibet

(Xinhua)

16:29, February 03, 2012

LHASA, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- Iodized salt has been distributed to all rural townships in southwest China's Tibet autonomous region as part of a government drive to eradicate iodine deficiency, a local official said Friday.

Iodine-enriched salt was available in all of Tibet's farming and herding areas by the end of last year, compared with 34 percent in 2005, said Zhou Weijia, director of the Tibet Regional Salt Affairs Bureau.

Altogether 13,456 tonnes of iodized salt was sent to the countryside of Tibet last year, he said.

The salt was sent to the government offices of rural townships. According to China's administrative system, a rural township is usually composed of several dozen villages.

Zhou said the regional government will expand the iodized salt distribution network by building four distribution centers this year to further boost the use of iodized salt.

People with iodine deficiencies are prone to goiters, a swelling of the neck resulting from enlargement of the thyroid gland, which can also lead to learning disabilities.

Iodine deficiencies can also cause miscarriages in pregnant women.

The Chinese government started the iodized salt program in 1995 and gave subsidies to the needy in Tibet, Xinjiang and Qinghai, where iodine deficiencies were common.

About 600,000 to 1 million of the 20 million babies born every year in China suffer from iodine deficiency.

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