Iodine Global Network

Iodine Global Network

Iodine Deficiency Prevention

The Iodine Global Network (IGN) is a nonprofit organisation working to ensure all people attain optimal iodine nutrition and children can reach their full cognitive potential.


What problem is the Iodine Global Network working on?

According to the World Health Organization, “iodine deficiency is the main cause of brain damage in childhood” and “iodine-deficient people may forfeit 15 IQ points, and nearly 50 million people suffer from some degree of iodine deficiency-related brain damage.”

According to GiveWell’s 2014 research, there is “a reasonably strong case” that salt iodisation reduces iodine deficiency. Randomised controlled trials have shown cognitive improvements in iodine-deficient children after iodine supplementation.

What does the Iodine Global Network do?

The IGN supports global and national iodine programmes by working with key public, private, scientific, and civic stakeholders to promote universal salt iodisation — which it sees as the most cost-effective and sustainable solution for prevention of iodine deficiency disorders.

According to IGN, $100 can help 10,000 people “sustain existing protection against iodine deficiency via salt iodization programs for 1 year” and iodised salt is responsible for decreasing the number of countries deficient in iodine from 110 in 1993 to 19 in 2017.

Specifically, the IGN works to:

  • Support the harmonisation of national and international iodine programme delivery by aligning approaches, partnerships, and resources.
  • Advocate for political will and increased attention and resources for iodine programmes in the context of the broader global nutrition landscape.
  • Identify and help address challenges to iodine programmes.
  • Strengthen national programmes and fortification coalitions through consistent programmatic guidance and enhanced communication to, from, and among national programmes.
  • Identify and address scientific questions and influence the research agenda to increase the effectiveness of iodine programmes.

What information does Giving What We Can have about the cost-effectiveness of Iodine Global Network?1.

We previously included Iodine Global Network as one of our recommended charities because the impact-focused evaluator Founders Pledge conducted an evaluation highlighting its cost-effectiveness. In addition, GiveWell consistently listed IGN as one of its “standout charities” before discontinuing this category in 2021 in favour of listing only “top charities.” Open Philanthropy has also awarded several grants to IGN. However, there is some uncertainty about the cost-effectiveness of salt iodisation. In March 2021, GiveWell estimated it to be “slightly below” their very high cost-effectiveness bar, but also stated that “additional information may change our view.”

We’ve since updated our recommendations to reflect only organisations recommended by evaluators we’ve looked into as part of our 2023 evaluator investigations; while we expect to soon look into Founders Pledge as part of this more in-depth evaluator research, we haven’t yet. As such, we don't currently include Iodine Global Network as one of our recommended programs but you can still donate to it via our donation platform.

Please note that GWWC does not evaluate individual charities. Our recommendations are based on the research of third-party, impact-focused charity evaluators our research team has found to be particularly well-suited to help donors do the most good per dollar, according to their recent evaluator investigations. Our other supported programs are those that align with our charitable purpose — they are working on a high-impact problem and take a reasonably promising approach (based on publicly-available information).

At Giving What We Can, we focus on the effectiveness of an organisation's work -- what the organisation is actually doing and whether their programs are making a big difference. Some others in the charity recommendation space focus instead on the ratio of admin costs to program spending, part of what we’ve termed the “overhead myth.” See why overhead isn’t the full story and learn more about our approach to charity evaluation.