| ||The dry climate and proximity of the ocean in southwestern Madagascar provide suitable conditions for salt marshes. These are exploited for their salt, but they are also sources of spirulina, a blue micro-algae easily cultivated even in the most arid regions and which has significant nutritional value. It improves the condition of populations suffering from malnutrition. Salt remains an economically crucial product which is exploited locally before being sent to the island’s other cities. Despite the widespread distribution of refrigeration processes, some countries still use salt to preserve food, notably meat and fish, which makes it much sought after. Salt also plays an important role in terms of health. In many countries around the world, the lack of iodized salt is responsible for the forming of goiters (swelling of the thyroid gland), which leads to developmental abnormalities in children. Mental retardation caused by iodine deficiency is irreversible. According to a study by the World Health Organization in 1995, 22.8 percent of Malagasy aged six to twelve had a goiter, a proportion reduced to 5 percent by 2001. In 2003, nearly one individual in three around the world suffered from iodine deficiency, and one in seven had a goiter. The WHO recommends the universal iodization of salt, meaning the use of iodized salt for human and animal consumption in order to prevent or limit iodine deficiency.
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