Ward and student nurses give a baby a regular check-up
Ward and student nurses give a baby a regular check-up at a maternal and child clinic in Cap-Haitian. (Karen Kasmauski/MCSP)

USAID Advancing Nutrition seeks to improve the coverage and quality of nutrition services. Digital tools can play an important role in that effort. They can guide service providers through the delivery of nutrition services by assessing nutritional status, tracking growth, and comparing it with reference populations; suggesting treatment measures; and providing appropriate counseling. They can also inform managers and supervisors of gaps in service coverage and quality. Over the past 10 years, the use of digital applications by health programs and for health service delivery has grown from small pilot projects to national-scale deployments in many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

In 2020, USAID Advancing Nutrition conducted a landscape analysis of how digital tools have been used for the delivery of nutrition services. Through a blog and panel presentation at the Global Digital Health Forum, we spread the word and shared resources so that other countries and projects can explore or scale up similar tools.

In 2021, we will take a closer look at digital tools used for growth monitoring and promotion (GMP) services. At least 178 countries provide GMP services for infants and young children. However, height and weight measurements are often inaccurate, tracking growth can be confusing, and counseling is frequently absent or of poor quality (not tied to the child’s growth or age, or inappropriate for the context). Therefore, we will develop guidance that aligns with global evidence and facilitates the use of digital tools for improving GMP service delivery and supervision.

Going forward, we will explore other opportunities to encourage the appropriate and effective use of digital applications to support service providers and supervisors and, ultimately, improve the quality of nutrition services. By documenting our experiences and disseminating those of others, we hope to build a global evidence base that will help expand the effective use of digital applications for nutrition service delivery.

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