The Status Quo

Importance of MN data collection

Mass micronutrient deficiency can be invisible. People may be eating low-nutrient dense crops and it can take up to half a year before noticeable effects begin to develop. Nonprofits struggle to find places most in need of intervention programs (food fortification or micronutrient supplementation) as well as how they should maximize their efficiencies.

“No single intervention works best for every country, and the intervention should be multi-pronged. The lack of data is the biggest blocker in optimizing interventions. Also every country thinks their diet is the best diet. It’s very hard to convince people without population data that their country has a MN deficiency and implement programs.” - Becky Tsang, Asia’s Food Fortification Initiative

Today's data collection rate is not enough.

There’s not enough data collected on vitamin B12. Since 1980, only 5.1% of low-middle income countries have data collected on vitamin B12. As a result, there are no reports of large scale intervention programs.

“Surveys are supposed to be done every 5 years, but typically it’s done every 10, and some countries haven’t had new data over the last 50 years.” - Ken Brown, UC Davis

“The issue is more so a lack of recent data, as most countries have done something in the past 20-40 years, but no assessments were done afterwards.” - Annette Imohe, UNICEF

Root Causes

Low-resource settings don’t have in-country labs. So blood samples have to be shipped overseas to international labs to be assessed, requiring expensive cold supply chains that can cost upwards of $3 million. The actual lab assessment of B12 also costs ~$15 per person.

“A huge blocker to getting data is the cost: shipping samples to an external lab drives up costs, and the analytical lab part is even more expensive.” - Dr. Lisa Rogers, WHO

“A big nutrition survey is over $1M compared to HIV where they get a $90M budget” - Maria Jefferds, CDC