A BETTER WAY OF DIAGNOSING DEFICIENCY
About a third of the world’s population suffers from micronutrient deficiency – a lack of essential vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc and vitamin A. It’s a big problem in poor communities, and it can impact everything from physical and mental development to pregnancy and productivity. We want to create a service or tool that enables people all over the world to test if they have a micronutrient deficiency. Crucially, the solution must be non-invasive, easy to use, scalable and affordable.
Nestlé has already taken steps to tackle the issue of micronutrient deficiency. Our dairy business offers affordable products that are fortified with a balance of strength-building nutrients, and we use our communications channels to raise awareness of the symptoms and consequences. We believe that – with the help of people outside Nestlé – we can make an even greater impact.
The symptoms of micronutrient deficiency aren’t always obvious, meaning sufferers can appear healthy even though they’re lacking in nutrition. So effective, affordable diagnosis is extremely important. Currently, the most common method of diagnosis is through invasive blood extraction, which is costly, intrusive and time-consuming.
We want you to help us create a service or tool that enables people to test if they have a micronutrient deficiency. We plan to use it to help children and adults in clinics, pharmacies and communities all over the world. The solution might be a swab, a urine test, or another form of technology. Crucially, it must be non-invasive, scalable, cost efficient and able to provide instant results. To make the service or tool as accessible as possible, it should also be easy to use, compact and portable.
Why it matters
Micronutrient deficiency can have a lifelong impact on sufferers. A child with an iron deficiency, for example, may become anaemic. This is likely to impair their physical and cognitive development, which could affect their schooling, their future productivity and their earnings. Ultimately, that child might end up trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty for their entire life. By helping more people self-diagnose, we can help stop this cycle – and improve life for people in developing countries.
Every project on HENRi has signed off funding of US$50,000 to pilot a proof-of-concept in market.