Objective: To make the best use of limited resources for supporting health-related research to reduce child mortality, it is necessary to apply a suitable method to rank competing research options. The Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative (CHNRI) developed a new methodology for setting health research priorities. To broaden experience with this priority-setting technique, we applied the method to rank possible research priorities concerning the control of Zn deficiency. Although Zn deficiency is not generally recognized as a direct cause of child mortality, recent research indicates that it predisposes children to an increased incidence and severity of several of the major direct causes Of morbidity and mortality.
Design: Leading experts in the field of Zn research in child health were identified and invited to participate in a technical working group (TWG) to establish research priorities. The individuals were chosen to represent a wide range of expertise in Zn nutrition. The seven TWG members submitted a total of ninety research options, which were then consolidated into a final list of thirty-one research options categorized by the type of resulting intervention.
Results: The identified priorities were dominated by research investment options targeting Zn supplementation, and were followed by research on Zn fortification, general aspects of Zn nutrition, dietary modification and other new interventions.
Conclusions: In general, research options that aim to improve the efficiency of an already existing intervention strategy received higher priority scores. Challenges identified during the implementation of the methodology and suggestions to modify the priority-setting procedures are discussed.