“Micronutrient deficiencies are estimated to impact a significant number of people around the world, but there remains far too little information on micronutrient status and deficiencies. More essential information and surveillance need to be gathered to make substantial progress on global targets.” 

Global Nutrition Report 2018

There is an urgent need for more and better data on the zinc status of vulnerable populations to effectively target and monitor zinc intervention programs. Plasma/serum zinc concentration is endorsed as the best available biomarker of zinc status, particularly for assessing the risk of zinc deficiency in target population groups such as preschool-aged children and women of reproductive age. But to date, national level plasma/serum zinc data for any population group exist for only 26 countries:

Percentage of pre-school children with low plasma or serum zinc concentrations ( map generated using data from WHO Micronutrient Database )

Percentage of pre-school children with low plasma or serum zinc concentrations (map generated using data from WHO Micronutrient Database)

In an effort to increase the availability and utilisation of high-quality data on zinc status at the national level in low- and middle-income countries, IZiNCG will carry out key informant interviews with survey representatives from countries where a national nutrition survey has recently been carried out. We want to better understand the hurdles and enabling factors to the inclusion of plasma/serum zinc in national surveys, and plan to talk with both those who included the assessment of plasma/serum zinc, and those who omitted it.  

Plasma/serum zinc is not the easiest of biomarkers to collect. By identifying factors that have enabled plasma/serum zinc assessment along with challenges that remain, we hope to facilitate the sharing of knowledge between countries and to promote the inclusion of plasma/serum zinc in future surveys. Findings from this project are expected early-2020.