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ThyroMobile rolls in Bukidnon to combat IDD, raise goiter awareness

MALAYBALAY CITY (PIA)—Over 100 women gathered at the Centennial Stage, Capitol Ground in Malaybalay City on October 16 to undergo full-scale checkups, including goiter screening, blood testing for thyroid hormone levels, salt testing, and urine testing for free.

Bukidnon, a landlocked province in Northern Mindanao, faces the challenge of limited access to iodine-rich foods due to its isolation from coastal areas. It puts many residents at risk of iodine deficiency disorder (IDD).

Dr. Teofilo San Luis Jr., a nuclear medicine and thyroid disease expert, explained that IDD is a condition that occurs when the body does not receive an appropriate supply of iodine, which is a leading cause of thyroid disease.

"Iodine is a mineral needed by thyroid hormones for the brain and central nervous system during fetal development. Thus, pregnant women must consume an adequate amount of iodine to support the stature and bone maturation processes," he said

San Luis, the country representative for Iodine Global Network Philippines, underscored that the mission focused on creating a network of individuals dedicated to ensure that patients receive the care they need.

"Promoting the importance of iodized salt in treating and avoiding thyroid disorders is a critical component of the medical mission. What is noteworthy here is how we have organized a group of local advocates to assist individuals who cannot afford surgery," he said.

Physicians and healthcare workers gather at the Centennial Stage, Capitol Compound in Malaybalay City, to launch the 'ThyroMobile' medical mission in Bukidnon on October 16, 2023. (JMC-GIP/PIA 10/Bukidnon)

Preserving the iodine content

In a press conference, San Luis explained that it is essential for the public to be aware that storing salt in a warmer area of the kitchen can cause iodine levels to decrease.

Therefore, his advice is to place the salt in an airtight container and locate a cool, dry, and dark storage spot. This precaution is crucial because salt loves to absorb moisture from the air, causing clumping and decreasing its iodine content, he added.

Dr. Teofilo San Luis Jr., a nuclear medicine and thyroid disease expert from the Iodine Global Network Philippines, conducts a thorough neck examination to detect signs of hypothyroidism in a patient. (JMC-GIP/PIA 10/Bukidnon)

ThyroMobile and the ASIN law

At the same event, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Gary Guido Tabios discussed the insights of the medical mission, the Iodine Deficiency Disorder, and the features of Republic Act 8172, known as The ASIN Law or An Act Promoting Salt Iodization Nationwide.

"ThyroMobile is a vehicle that serves as a state-of-the-art mobile laboratory. It focuses on communities where women of reproductive age are susceptible to thyroid-related health issues, which is in support of DOH's Philippine Plan of Action Program for Nutrition," the provincial health officer said.

He reiterated that iodine deficiency could result in various abnormalities, such as goiter, hypothyroidism, miscarriage, stillbirth, and congenital anomalies like deaf-mutism, squinted eyes, cretinism, and mental retardation.

Conducted by the Iodine Global Network, in collaboration with the Rotary Club of Malaybalay; the Department of Health (DOH); Provincial Health Office; National Nutrition Council in Region 10; Philippine Information Agency; Merck; Bukidnon Medical Society; and the media, the ThyroMobile medical mission aimed to raise awareness about goiter among women.

Salinas Foods Inc. also contributed to the mission by providing Fidel iodized salt and hygiene and healthcare sets to those in the queue.

Sherlita Bayo, a beneficiary, expressed her heartfelt thanks to the organizers, citing that she no longer needed to travel far and incur costs to see a doctor for her suspected thyroid disease.

"Nagpasalamat ko’g dako sa gipahigayon nga ThyroMobile Medical Mission diri sa Bukidnon aron ma-check gyud ang akong kahimtang ug sa mga kababayen-an nga naay goiter nga balati-an," Bayo conveyed her gratitude in dialect.

Women from different villages patiently wait in a long queue, eager to benefit from the multiple services offered by ThyroMobile medical mission on October 16 at the Centennial Stage, Capitol Ground in Malaybalay City. (JMC-GIP/PIA 10/Bukidnon)

According to the Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) survey, IDD remains prevalent in 15 provinces across the country, as they recorded an overall median urinary iodine concentration (UIC) below 99 µg/L, indicating iodine deficiency.

These provinces include Mountain Province, Benguet, Pangasinan, and Palawan in Luzon; Cebu, Antique, Capiz, Biliran, and Western Samar in Visayas; and Bukidnon, Davao Occidental, South Cotabato, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, and Basilan in Mindanao.

With the prevalence of IDD in some provinces, the DOH and local government units— through their health officers and nutritionists—undertake programs to set standards for food-grade iodized salt and monitor the quality of salt sold in their markets.

Under the ASIN Law, the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Science and Technology, and National Nutrition Council, among other concerned agencies, are directed to provide mechanisms for the salt industries in the production, marketing, and distribution of iodized salt to ensure the sustainability of the salt iodization program. (JMCleopas-GIP/PIA 10/Bukidnon)

A group of healthcare professionals holds a press conference at the Centennial Stage, Capitol Ground in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, to share insights and mission highlights during the Thyromobile launch. (JMC-GIP/PIA 10/Bukidnon)

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Ruby Leonora Balistoy


Region 10

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