Timely, high-quality data are key for scaling up nutrition interventions

To turn a commitment to scale up nutrition into reality, we need high-quality actionable data – in the right places at the right times. Without this, we are at best myopic, and at worst, flying blind. Data are needed to characterize different types of nutrition problems, to highlight magnitude, distribution, and variability, over time and space; to understand what’s driving the problem; to design, deliver and monitor appropriately targeted interventions and determine their effectiveness; to track national and global levels and trends, and to hold responsible actors accountable for progress (or lack thereof) toward goals they have signed up to.

A new research paper by Stuart Gillespie and colleagues argues that a value chain approach is key for progress. They start by reviewing recommendations on a package of high-impact nutrition-specific interventions. The ‘best bet’ recommendations from the 2013 Lancet Maternal and Child Nutrition series were combined with current World Health Organization global guidance to generate a list of 24 high-impact interventions. They then propose a list of indicators to capture their coverage, and assess the extent to which this was done or feasible using available data sets. Three case studies are presented to highlight the kind of innovations that are feasible, using published literature and empirical data from large-scale initiatives.