Cargill donation will help Notre Dame Haiti Program fight disease

Author: William G. Gilroy

Haiti Program

Cargill, an international producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services, has donated $20,000 toward the purchase of raw salt to assist in the University of Notre Dame Haiti Program effort to eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) in that country.

LF, which commonly is called elephantiasis, is one of the leading causes of disability in the world and it affects roughly one-third of the population in Haiti. However, the debilitating disease can be eliminated by using table salt. Cargill’s donation will assist a community development model that includes table salt as an integral component.

“By helping to address this problem in Haiti, Notre Dame provides hope and relief to the Haitian people while living out the Notre Dame mission to cultivate in its students not only an appreciation for the great achievements of human beings, but also a disciplined sensibility to the poverty, injustice and oppression that burden the lives of so many,” Rev. Thomas Streit, C.S.C., founder of the Haiti Program.

The salt will come from Cargill’s solar salt facility in Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles, and will be delivered by Bromo Industrial in the Dominican Republic. Bromo is a long-time customer of Cargill.

“When we talk about why our salt business exists, we say it is to nourish people and enhance lives every day,” said Ruth Kimmelshure, president of Cargill Salt.

LF is caused by parasites that can accumulate and damage the lymph vessels, causing arms, legs and other parts of the body to swell many times their normal size. The Notre Dame Haiti Program has been working in coordination with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on eliminating LF in Haiti for almost two decades. Despite the devastating January earthquake, the goal for national coverage for the mass drug administration is on target to be reached in 2011. The salt will then act as a secondary method in the highly endemic areas to be able to reach elimination.

“Medicated salt has been proven as the most effective secondary treatment, particularly in Haiti where diets tend to be salt-rich,” Father Streit said.
The average Haitian salt consumption — when consumed as medicated, co-fortified salt — is exactly the appropriate level needed as a secondary method to fight LF.

Cargill and Notre Dame have each worked separately and together with the U.S.-based Salt Institute, which is the world’s foremost source of authoritative information about salt (sodium chloride) and its more than 14,000 known uses. The Institute was founded in 1914 and consists of the leading salt companies in the world united in the common purpose of bringing the myriad benefits of salt to mankind.

Cargill Salt produces packages and ships salt for five major market segment applications: agricultural, food, water conditioning, industrial and packaged salt control.

Contact: Susan Soisson, Notre Dame Haiti Program, 574-631-3273, Susan.M.Soisson.1@nd.edu

Originally published by William G. Gilroy at news.nd.edu on September 22, 2010.