The Iodine Deficiency Project

laviniaIodine deficiency is the most widespread cause of preventive mental impairment. In the 1980's Bolivia had one of the most severe iodine deficiency problems in the world, so severe that the WHO and UNICEF teamed up with the Bolivian government to implement the Universal Salt Iodization program in 1983. However, over two decades have passed since the iodization program was implemented and there have been no follow up assessments of the national population's iodine levels.

As an ambitious college junior at Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, IL, Lavinia Sinitean, spent the summer of 2006 at Centro Medico investigating iodine levels of the local population. Lavinia's project aimed to evaluate the iodine status and prevalence of iodine deficiency in Centro Medico's communities.


For 3 months Lavinia collected urine and blood samples, which were later analyzed at Northwestern University. Lavinia reports having significant program support from clinic staff and lots of interest from the local communities. As word of Lavinia's project spread, unsolicited locals would make the long trek to the clinic asking to participate in the "yodo" (iodine) project!

After graduating from college, Lavinia returned to work as a Coordinator at CMHP and eventually married a Bolivian she met through her work. Lavinia and her husband then moved back to the U.S. where she is now working for Dr. Rama Jager and Ms. Pat Jager, who generously come down to Bolivia for a week each to perform needed surgeries on our patients at a hospital in Portachuelo.