From June 2 to June 6, Marya and I had the exciting experience of attending the Micronutrient Forum which is a global conference. The focus of the conference was "Building Bridges" between scientific advances and multi-sectoral programming needs to reduce micronutrient malnutrition. We attended this conference because of our work with developing the saltPAD, a paper device that quantifies iodine in iodized salt. This work has been funded by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN).
I felt very proud of the work I had done with the saltPAD. I was approached by many small scale salt manufacturers in East Africa who asked, "Where can we buy these?!" It made me feel like my research was important and had a real-world application instead of being lost up in the ivory tower. I find the real-world application to be my driving force, and it keeps me motivated to continue the research.
Marya and I did a lot of saltPAD demos and presented a poster. We got a lot of positive comments. We even got helpful feedback from leaders in the field about other paper devices we are currently developing.
The conference provided us with many new research ideas that we should pursue with our development of paper test cards. I did not realize the importance of or issues surrounding vitamin A and iron nutrition before attending the conference. I am astounded by the social challenges that researchers in the micronutrient world have to overcome. It reminds me that science alone cannot solve all problems; there has to be a concerted, cross-displinary effort to solve problems in the micronutrient world. I am glad I could see where my research fits in as a piece of the puzzle to start solving these issues.