IMPACT
06/15/2015 04:44 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

These Bindis Could Help Save The Lives Of Impoverished Indian Women

This health solution is spot on.

An estimated 350 million people in India don’t consume enough iodine, a deficiency that can lead to brain damage, among other health issues, and is particularly dangerous for pregnant women, according to a study published by the Indian Journal of Medical Research. Since supplements are often cost-prohibitive, a marketing group developed a way for poor women to ingest iodine through a religious symbol they wear daily.

In Hindu culture, wives publicize their marital status by wearing a red bindi, or dot, in the middle of their foreheads. Capitalizing on this widespread custom, Grey for Good -- Grey Group’s philanthropic arm –- developed a bindi that enables women to absorb their daily iodine requirements, The Times of India reported.

The women just have to wear the Jeevan Bindi, or "lifesaving dot," for eight hours a day to get 100 to 150 micrograms a day.

To develop an effective distribution system, the marketing group partnered with Neelvasant Medical Foundation and Research Center, a nonprofit that works with underserved rural and tribal communities in India. The organization identified groups in need, and doled out lifesaving dots throughout medical camps across rural India, according to a video released by Grey Group.

So far, the campaign has reached more than 30,000 women in about 100 villages, according to NPR.

While some are concerned that the iodine may not remain on the dots, and that harsh conditions could impact its effectiveness, experts say that the amplified awareness surrounding the issue alone is invaluable, NPR reported.

“In a nation of 500 million women, bindis were no longer just a symbol of beauty,” Grey Group noted in the video, “they now spelled the difference between life and death.”

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