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Gates Foundation

Many women and girls in India wear a small dot, called a bindi, on their foreheads.

Images by the Grey Group.


The bindi is traditionally used for religious purposes, to signify marriage, and for a number of other reasons.

But now it's being used to help save lives, thanks to the creative minds at ad agency the Grey Group and the Neelvasant Medical Foundation and Research Centre.

In India alone, 350 million people are at risk for iodine deficiency.

Iodine deficiency is the world's leading cause of brain damage. You don't hear much about iodine, but its role in the human body is incredibly important.

In pregnant women, a lack of iodine can result in cognitive birth defects or stillbirth.

While iodine deficiency is a problem around the globe, parts of rural India suffer greatly because iodized salt, the most widely used method for combatting iodine deficiency, is not readily available.

Supplements exist, but they're expensive.

Knowing this, Grey for Good, the philanthropic arm of Grey Group, developed the Life Saving Dot.

The back of each Life Saving Dot, or Jeevan Bindi, is coated in iodine, which turns it into a small iodine patch.

Over eight hours, each Jeevan Bindi delivers up to 150 micrograms of iodine through the skin.

That's 100% of the recommended amount for women!

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Best of all, a month's supply of Life Saving Dots is affordable!

30 days of dots costs 10 rupees, or 16 cents.

To get the dots where they're needed most, Grey for Good teamed up with the Neelvasant Medical Foundation and Research Centre, a non-governmental organization supporting rural and tribal populations in India.

The foundation identified groups in need and set up medical camps to deliver the innovative supplements.


So far, more than 30,000 women in over 100 villages have received these Life Saving Dots.

While it's not clear yet whether the bindis are entirely effective under every circumstance — for example, it's possible the iodine could evaporate over time when worn in extreme heat or other severe conditions — this is a huge step toward solving a serious global health crisis.

Learn more about Life Saving Dots in this short video:

Photo: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation

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