Progress and challenges in eliminating iodine deficiency in Ethiopia: A systematic review

Tirhas M. Gebretsadikan, Aron M. Troen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Background: Iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) and their attendant effects on human development, perinatal mortality and intellectual dysfunction are a major nutrition and public health problem worldwide, with Ethiopia counted among the top iodine-deficient countries. Despite the passing of new legislation in 2011 under the National Nutrition Programme and subsequent increase in the availability of iodized salt, the eradication of IDD in Ethiopia remains a significant challenge. This paper critically reviews the recent published data on iodine-status in Ethiopia as a basis for formulating future research and policy initiatives. Methods: We performed a structural search for IDD studies in Ethiopia for all population groups published after the year 2000. Results: Twenty four studies reported national and regional data giving a national total goiter rate above 35.8 % in women, with rates close to 60 % in four regional states, and an estimated prevalence of IDD ranging from 0.4 to 66.3 % depending on region. The prevalence of goiter in children was 35 %, but was as high as 71 % in the South Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region. The problem persists despite the widespread availability of iodized salt. Conclusions: Eradicating IDD in Ethiopia will require concerted efforts including the close evaluation of intervention programs through regular, nation-wide monitoring of IDD and salt-iodization coverage. Salt iodization became mandatory in Ethiopia in 2011 and despite significant progress, the current level of eradicating IDD could be improved. Prospective and controlled intervention studies to evaluate biomarkers of thyroid function and cognitive outcomes will help to monitor and improve eradication efforts. Ascertaining and improving health and development in the most vulnerable populations of women and children is a priority that may be advanced through a greater investment in outreach and education.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number12
JournalBMC Nutrition
Issue number1
StatePublished - 20 Sep 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Gebretsadikan and Troen.


  • Children
  • Ethiopia
  • Iodine deficiency
  • Iodine deficiency disorder
  • Universal salt iodization
  • Women


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