Building Awareness on Consumption of Iodized Salt and Compliance Management of RTK


Iodine deficiency persists as a major health problem in Bangladesh. Despite the
presence of a government law that prohibits sale of non-iodized salt, a large volume of
salt that is available in local market is ‘open’ or non-iodized salt or falsely labeled as
iodized. Addressing this, BRAC-HNPP in partnership with Global Alliance for Improved
Nutrition (GAIN), UNICEF, Government of Bangladesh, and Micronutrient Initiatives in
Bangladesh (MI) initiated an intervention of delivering Rapid Test Kit (RTK to check
iodine level before buying it. The intervention programme also included promotional
activities at community level to promote consumption of iodized salt. The main objective
of this study was to investigate into the compliance of retailers in using RTK and to
understand whether promotional activities of the intervention programme enhanced the
availability of iodized salt in local shops and its acceptability by the consumers. A
qualitative explorative study was done to collect the necessary information. The study
locations were selected purposively from Sirajganj and Chapainawabganj districts of
Bangladesh where the programme started intervention on RTK. At beneficiary level
retailers, shopkeepers, mothers and school going children (school going children from
grade 7-9) who were receiving the services was interviewed. At the facilitator’s level
service providers (SS), programme organiser (PO) and programme managers (BM/UM)
were interviewed. Data collection method included In-Depth interview, focus group
discussion (FDG), and informal discussion, shadowing and checking records with the
retailers, PO, as well as consumers. The findings revealed that the retailers were willing
to utilise the RTK while buying salt from the wholesaler; however, in most cases they
were not cooperated by the dealers to check the salt. They also talked about the public
demand for cheaper salt that is non-iodized. However, they agreed that packet salt with
false labeling were gradually decreasing from the local markets due to counseling and
implementation of the RTK strategy. The findings also revealed that knowledge on
iodized salt was inadequate among the communities. Most of the consumers were not
aware about iodized salt. Some of them heard about iodine but failed to understand any
importance of it. Consequently, people preferred unpacked salt (open salt) due to its
cheaper rate. They opined that if they were well informed about the effectiveness of
iodine deficiency they would have preferred iodized salt. Social and community
mobilisation could be done for the dealers, distributor, salt manufacturers etc. Rigorous
monitoring and messaging through media could be done for ensuring the enforcement
of existing salt iodization law. Further, door-to-door counseling with the communities
and subsidised rate for iodized salt (other than BRAC salt) could be considered.

Related information

  • Writer Name: Umme Salma Mukta, Barnali Chakraborty, Sabuj Kanti Mistry, Dr Sayeda Shabukta Malik Dr Md Mahfuzar Rahman and Dr Md Raisul Haque
  • Published Date: Wednesday, 18 November 2015
  • Country: Bangladesh