Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has filed a Senate resolution seeking to strengthen mechanisms that would enhance local salt production to preserve means of livelihood for local salt farmers while promoting iodine sufficiency among the citizenry.
De Lima filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 717 inquiring into the implementation of Republic Act (RA) No. 8172, also known as “An Act for Salt Iodization Nationwide” (ASIN) Law and its effects on health and the local salt industry.
“It is high time to conduct a probe that would determine the status of its implementation, in order to pose holistic solutions to the multifaceted challenges it has effected not only in further lowering the IDD rate, but also in preserving a culture and means of livelihood for local salt farmers,” she said.
Enacted into law in 1995, ASIN Law seeks to “contribute to the elimination of micronutrient malnutrition in the country, particularly iodine deficiency disorders, through the cost-effective preventive measure of salt iodization.”
It also “require[s] all producers and manufacturers of food-grade salt to iodize the salt that they produce, manufacture, import, trade or distribute; and provide mechanisms and incentives for the local salt industry in the production, marketing and distribution of iodized salt.”
De Lima, however, noted the result of the 8th National Nutritional Survey (NNS) where it was revealed that 8.9% of all children aged 6 to 12 years old in 2013 has Iodine Deficiency Disorder (IDD).
She also cited reports describing salt-making as “a dying and vanishing industry” in the Philippines, with only a few commercial producers, while the rest are relegated to the likes of old women still boiling seawater until only the salt remains.
Disturbingly, the same reports also reveal that several producers in different provinces that could supply almost 85% of the country’s annual salt requirement in 1990 were forced to close down or convert their areas into other profitable ventures.
Given all the above mentioned challenges, De Lima underscored the need to stress the importance of an aligned inter-agency approach in guaranteeing the efficient end to end, sustainable implementation of the ASIN law. She noted, “from the provision of technical and financial assistance to local salt farmers, upgrading technologies to boost production and wean from importation, monitoring the compliance of salt producers to standards prescribed by the law, addressing the health issue of micronutrient deficiency, to finally ensuring consumer safety.”