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Nutrition Information Management, Surveillance and Monitoring in the Context of COVID-19

Author: UNICEF, Global Nutrition Cluster, Global Technical Assistance Mechanism for Nutrition (GTAM)
Year: 2020
Resource type: Official

Background & Introduction

To support implementers on how to prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, a series of evidence-based guidance briefs will be produced and updated as new information and evidence emerges. This Brief is meant to provide broad recommendations specific to nutrition information management, surveillance and monitoring in the context of COVID-19. A core set of specific indicators tracking COVID19 and its impact on nutrition program delivery and performance will be made available in due course.

Malnutrition and other co-morbidities (for example HIV, tuberculosis) are considered a risk factor for complications in people with COVID-19, due to a compromised immune system.1 Available evidence on COVID-19 infections, indicates that children generally present milder symptoms than older groups; however, we do not know yet how it will affect wasted children. It is reasonable to assume that such children are at higher risk of COVID-19 related complications.2 Further, while the relative risk of COVID-19 complications may be lower for children from Europe and/or high income countries, we do not yet know how it will affect children in regions where the prevalence of child undernutrition specifically wasting and micronutrient deficiencies is high, such as Africa with 6.4% (5.4-7.5) and South Asia at 14.3% (10.4-19.3) of global acute malnutrition.3 The nutritional status of the population in these countries - including the prevalence of child stunting, wasting, and micronutrient deficiencies - is also expected to deteriorate further in the coming months due to the socio-economic impact of COVID-19.

As a nutrition community, we need to continue to develop our understanding on practical solutions for the sustained collection, interpretation, analysis and management of nutrition-related data for surveillance and monitoring of the nutrition situation and relevant nutrition programmes in the context of COVID-19. Nutrition data and information are critical to determine the nutritional status of populations. While recognizing the risk of COVID-19 being transmitted during data collection of nutrition information, the surveillance and monitoring of nutrition programmes should continue where possible while exploring innovative approaches to collect vital information without causing any unintended harm and provide adequate and timely information for response planning. Documenting and disseminating these lessons and emerging evidence will be key to implementing the most appropriate and effective responses in the face of this pandemic.

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1 Action Against Hunger COVID-19: The Impact of the Outbreak https://www.actionagainsthunger.org.uk/blog/coronavirus-impact-outbreak accessed 23 March 2020
2 UNICEF and Global Nutrition Cluster (2020) Risk of COVID-19 complication in children affected by wasting
3 UNICEF, WHO, World Bank (2020) Joint Child Malnutrition Estimates 2020 Edition

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Nutrition-Information-COVID19-Brief-1_0_14-April.pdf (PDF, 131kb)

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UNICEF, Global Nutrition Cluster, Global Technical Assistance Mechanism for Nutrition (GTAM) (2020). Nutrition Information Management, Surveillance and Monitoring in the Context of COVID-19. www.ennonline.net/covid19nisbrief

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