Improving nutritional status is fundamental to addressing challenges in child health in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and a priority for international organisations such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). Despite the global consensus that child growth is a key indicator of child nutrition and health, the development of low-cost, accurate and child-friendly growth measurement devices that are fit for purpose in LMICs remains elusive. Recognising these limitations, UNICEF recently published a Target Product Profile (TPP) calling for the development of new state-of-the-art height and length measurement devices. The purpose of this review was to examine current growth measurement devices in relation to this UNICEF TPP requirement and set the stage for the development of new devices. The findings show that there is a gap in the product market for accurate portable length and height measurement devices. In particular, our review indicates that devices in current use generally lack capabilities for automated data recording and transfer of data to a central database, and are often not child-friendly. We conclude that future innovations in length and height measurement devices should focus on addressing these issues.
We would like to thank Ulster University colleagues, Professor John Anthony Byrne (principal investigator for the SAFEWATER project), Ms Vanessa Ross (SAFEWATER Project Manager) and Ms Anna Zmuda-Trzebiatowska (Global Grants Development Manager) for their guidance and support throughout the project. We are grateful to all the growth measurement device developers for sharing their product information with us. The authors accept full responsibility for this paper and have no competing interests.
The authors wish to acknowledge funding from the Department of Economy, The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Internal Pump Priming Call, in turn building upon a much larger GCRF, UK Research and Innovation grant for the SAFEWATER project (EPSRC Grant Reference EP/P032427/1).
- child health
- design performance
- Height/length measurement devices
- low- and middle-income countries