Assessing the Coverage of Biofortified Foods: Development and Testing of Methods and Indicators in Musanze, Rwanda

Petry N, Wirth JP, Friesen VM, Rohner F, Nkundineza A, Chanzu E, Tadesse KG, Gahutu JB, Neufeld LM, Birol E, Boy E, Mudyahoto B, Muzhingi T, Mbuya MNN

August 2020 – Current Developments in Nutrition

Biofortification of staple crops has the potential to increase nutrient intakes and improve health outcomes. Despite the increasing scale of many biofortification programs, information on the coverage of biofortified foods in the general population is often lacking. Such information is needed to ascertain potential for impact and identify bottlenecks to parts of the impact pathway. To assess biofortification programs, 5 indicators of population-wide household coverage were developed, building on approaches previously used to assess large-scale food fortification programs. These were 1) consumption of the food; 2) awareness of the biofortified food; 3) availability of the biofortified food; 4) consumption of the biofortified food (ever); and 5) consumption of the biofortified food current). To ensure that the indicators are applicable to different settings they were tested in a cross-sectional household-based cluster survey in rural and peri-urban areas in Musanze District, Rwanda where planting materials for iron-biofortified beans (IBs) and orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (OFSPs) were delivered. The major bottlenecks to coverage of biofortified foods were awareness and availability. These methods and indicators fill a gap in the availability of tools to assess coverage of biofortified foods, and the results of the survey highlight their utility for identifying bottlenecks. Further testing is warranted to confirm the generalizability of the coverage indicators and inform their operationalization when deployed in different settings.

Ghana Micronutrient Survey Report

University of Ghana, GroundWork, University of Wisconsin, KEMRI-Wellcome Trust, & UNICEF

June 2018 – Report Release, Accra, Ghana

The 2017 Ghana Micronutrient Survey (GMS) is national and comprehensive micronutrient survey that collected data on micronutrient deficiencies, anemia, malaria, and blood disorders (e.g. sickle cell, alpha-thalassemia) in children 6-59 months of age, and non-pregnant women 15-49 years of age, and pregnant women. The GMS also collected anthropometric measurements to estimate the prevalence of stunting and wasting in children, and overweight and obesity in non-pregnant women. The information collected by the GMS will enable the government and international agencies to monitor the current status of national nutrition programs (e.g. wheat and vegetable oil fortification and vitamin A supplementation) and to plan future nutrition and health interventions. The GMS was conducted by the University of Ghana and GroundWork and their nutrition partners (e.g. University of Wisconsin, Kemri-Wellcome Trust, UNICEF, Ghana Health Service, and others). Funding was provided by UNICEF and the Canadian Government.

Comparison of a New Multiplex Immunoassay for Measurement of Ferritin, Soluble Transferrin Receptor, Retinol-Binding Protein, C-Reactive Protein and α1-Acid-glycoprotein Concentrations against a Widely-Used s-ELISA Method

Karakochuk CD, Henderson AM, Samson KLI, Aljaadi AM, Devlin AM, Becquey E, Wirth JP, Rohner F

February 2018 – Diagnostics

Recently, a multiplex ELISA (Quansys Biosciences) was developed that measures ferritin, soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR), retinol-binding protein (RBP), C-reactive protein (CRP), α1-acid glycoprotein (AGP), thyroglobulin, and histidine-rich protein 2. Our primary aim was to conduct a method-comparison study to compare five biomarkers (ferritin, sTfR, RBP, CRP, and AGP) measured with the Quansys assay and a widely-used s-ELISA (VitMin Lab, Willstaett, Germany) with use of serum samples from 180 women and children from Burkina Faso, Cambodia, and Malaysia. Bias and concordance were used to describe the agreement in values measured by the two methods. We observed poor overall agreement between the methods, both with regard to biomarker concentrations and deficiency prevalence estimates. Several measurements were outside of the limit of detection with use of the Quansys ELISA (total n = 42 for ferritin, n = 2 for sTfR, n = 0 for AGP, n = 5 for CRP, n = 22 for RBP), limiting our ability to interpret assay findings. Although the Quansys ELISA has great potential to simplify laboratory analysis of key nutritional and inflammation biomarkers, there are some weaknesses in the procedures. Overall, we found poor comparability of results between methods. Besides addressing procedural issues, additional validation of the Quansys against a gold standard method is warranted for future research.