Barriers to and Enablers of the Inclusion of Micronutrient Biomarkers in National Surveys and Surveillance Systems in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Nutrients. 2022 May 10;14(10):2009. doi: 10.3390/nu14102009.


Including biomarkers of micronutrient status in existing or planned national surveys or surveillance systems is a critical step in improving capacity to promote, design, monitor, and evaluate micronutrient policies and programs. We aimed to identify the barriers to and enablers of the inclusion of micronutrient biomarker assessment in national surveys and surveillance systems, to identify the main challenges faced during the survey process, and to review experiences using existing platforms for micronutrient surveys. We conducted a series of key informant interviews with in-country and external representatives from six countries where national-level data on micronutrient status were collected in the past 5 years: Cambodia, Pakistan, Malawi, Uganda, Ghana, and Uzbekistan. Micronutrients associated with specific public health programs were always prioritized for inclusion in the survey. If funding, time, and/or logistics allowed, other considered micronutrients were also included. The most important and frequently reported barrier to inclusion of a more comprehensive panel of micronutrient biomarkers was inadequate funding to cover the laboratory analysis cost for all micronutrients considered at the planning stage. Government support and commitment was stressed as the most important enabling factor by all key informants. Advocacy for funding for micronutrient status assessment is needed.

Keywords: biomarker; micronutrient; surveillance; survey.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Developing Countries
  • Government
  • Micronutrients*
  • Trace Elements*


  • Biomarkers
  • Micronutrients
  • Trace Elements