Risk communication as a component that provides stability of strategy aimed at eliminating diseases caused by iodine deficiency in Belarus

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Е.V. Phedorenko1, N.D. Kolomiets2 , Т.V. Mokhort3, А.N. Volchenko1, Е.G. Mokhort3, S.V. Petrenko4, S.I. Sychik1


1 Scientific-Practical Hygiene Center, 8 Akademicheskaya Str., Minsk, 220012, Belarus
2 Belarus Medical Academy for Post-graduate Studies, 3/3 P. Brovki Str., Minsk, 220013, Belarus
3 Belorusskiy State Medical University, 83 Dzerzhinskiy av., Minsk, 220116, Belarus
4 A.D. Sakharov's International State Ecological Institute, 23/1 Dolgobrodskaya Str., Minsk, 220070, Belarus


There is a strategy being implemented now in Belarus that involves obligatory application of high quality iodized salt in food industry; it has resulted in iodine deficiency elimination among population. Sales of iodized salt account for more than 70 % of the overall salt sales in retail outlets. However, attention paid to the issue has started to decline recently, including mass media; at present there is no social advertising that informs people about iodized salt being useful for their health. Our research object was population awareness about various aspects related to prevention of diseases caused by iodine deficiency and objective indicators of iodine provision. Our research goal was to determine probable risks of iodine deficiency prophylaxis becoming less efficient and to substantiate ways how to prevent negative trends.

Data and methods. We assessed population awareness on iodine deficiency via questioning; overall, 805 people living in Belarus took part in it. Alimentary exposure to iodine was calculated for various scenarios taking into account natural iodine contents and artificially added iodine in food products as well as consumption volumes. Ioduria was assessed with cerium-arsenite technique. We considered dynamics in morbidity with simple goiter and congenital hypothyroidism to be indicators of iodine provision. Basic results. We detected that most respondents, 658 (81.7 %, 95 % CI 78.8–84.7) to be exact, thoughts that their therapists were the primary source of knowledge on health-related issues; 176 (21.9 %, 95 % CI 15.8–28.0) trusted mass media including the Internet. More than half respondents (61.4 %, 95 % CI 60.8–62.0 %) and medical personnel statistically significantly more frequently (77.1 %, 95 % CI 70.7–83.61 %) believed there was a iodine deficiency problem existing in the country.

We didn't detect any risk of excessive iodine introduction with food products. Selective monitoring over ioduria among children proves their iodine provision is quite appropriate as it amounts to more than 100 µg/l. Dynamics of primary morbidity with congenital hypothyroidism confirms that stable positive results have been achieved in the sphere; in 2006 primary morbidity was equal to 1.96 per 100 thousand people, but in 2017 it dropped to 0.96 per 100 thousand people. It proves that Belarus is among countries where population consume proper amounts of iodine. But an arising trend for lower awareness about iodine deficiency calls for more active risk communication about possible diseases related to iodine deficiency, including mass media campaigns.

iodine, iodized salt, monitoring, diseases caused by iodine deficiency, risk communication
Phedorenko Е.V., Kolomiets N.D., Mokhort Т.V., Volchenko А.N., Mokhort Е.G., Petrenko S.V., Sychik S.I. Risk communi-cation as a component that provides stability of strategy aimed at eliminating diseases caused by iodine deficiency in Belarus. Health Risk Analysis, 2019, no. 1, pp. 58–67. DOI: 10.21668/health.risk/2019.1.06.eng
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