the Union ministry of human resource development has directed all state governments to use only iodised salt in food given free of cost under their nutrition-related programmes. "The decision would ensure better health for under-privileged sections of the society," says Vinay Agarwal, honorary joint secretary of the New Delhi-based Indian Medical Association. The Union ministry of health and family welfare had earlier lifted a ban on usage of non-iodised salt, despite doctors claiming that iodine was necessary for human health (see Down To Earth , Vol 9, No 10, October 15, p11). Iodine had been supplemented with common salt since 1986 under the universal salt iodisation programme. Iodine is necessary for the proper functioning of thyroid gland, which produces thyroxine hormone that is essential for growth. Doctors claim that compulsory consumption of iodine has led to a steep decline in goitre cases.
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