Selenium (Se) is an essential element for human health and livestock productivity. Globally, human Se status is highly variable, mainly due to the influence of soil types on the Se content of crops, suggesting the need to identify areas of deficiency to design targeted interventions. In sub-Saharan Africa, including Ethiopia, data on population Se status are largely unavailable, although previous studies indicated the potential for widespread Se deficiency. Serum Se concentration of a nationally representative sample of the Ethiopian population was determined, and these observed values were combined with a spatial statistical model to predict and map the Se status of populations across the country. The study used archived serum samples (n
= 3269) from the 2015 Ethiopian National Micronutrient Survey (ENMS). The ENMS was a cross-sectional survey of young and school-age children, women and men. Serum Se concentration was measured using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICPMS). The national median (Q1, Q3) serum Se concentration was 87.7 (56.7, 123.0) μg L−1
. Serum Se concentration differed between regions, ranging from a median (Q1, Q3) of 54.6 (43.1, 66.3) µg L−1
in the Benishangul-Gumuz Region to 122.0 (105, 141) µg L−1
in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region and the Afar Region. Overall, 35.5% of the population were Se deficient, defined as serum Se < 70 µg L−1
. A geostatistical analysis showed that there was marked spatial dependence in Se status, with serum concentrations greatest among those living in North-East and Eastern Ethiopia and along the Rift Valley, while serum Se concentrations were lower among those living in North-West and Western Ethiopia. Selenium deficiency in Ethiopia is widespread, but the risk of Se deficiency is highly spatially dependent. Policies to enhance Se nutrition should target populations in North-West and Western Ethiopia.
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