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UNICEF Innovation

Height/length Measurement Device

Reliable measurements are key for calculating anthropometric indicators such as stunting, wasting and underweight among children, which is vital to monitor progress toward eradicating hunger, reducing health inequalities and assessing health interventions

© UNICEF/Nigeria/Strange/2016

In October 2017 UNICEF published a revised Target Product Profile (TPP) to specify HLMD requirements. A TPP brief and a document on  product clarifications beyond the TPP are also available. 

A request for proposals for height/length measurement devices was released in October 2017 and is available here.





Reviews of household survey data quality have shown that the current device used to measure height and length of infants, children and adults does not yield accurate results. This project aims to enable procurement of fit-for-purpose devices capable of producing accurate and precise readings.

Devices for height and length measurements are key instruments in household surveys, such as the USAID-supported Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) Programme, and the UNICEF-supported Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) Programme. Height and length measurement devices are furthermore used for general growth and health monitoring activities in communities and clinics.

A report by ICF International for USAID (An Assessment of the Quality of DHS Anthropometric Data, 2005-2014) as well as feedback from field offices recommended the improvement of anthropometric data quality, the identification of new types of equipment to accurately measure the height/length of children and infants and the need for more comprehensive training.

The Project

The accuracy of anthropometric measurements is critical when monitoring the progress towards international health targets and goals. To achieve this, UNICEF launched an innovation project to investigate the opportunity of developing new and more suitable devices with the intent of improving the quality of anthropometric data collection.

UNICEF currently supplies different anthropometric equipment including two portable height/length measuring boards and a stadiometer to support various programmes and surveys. While standardized protocols are in place, anthropometric data collection continues to be challenging due to the limitations of the current equipment and the context and environment of the assessments. Several areas of improvement for the user, such as making the measurement equipment easier to transport and operate have also been identified, however, the main challenge remains being able to adequately produce, read and record correct and reliable measurements in the field.

The main reasons leading to inaccurate measurements using traditional measuring boards have been identified as:

• Inaccurate positioning of the body against the board;
• Infant and children moving during the measurement assessment;
• Inaccurate readings caused by:   

     - Reading the measurement from an incorrect angle;
     - Difficulty seeing/reading the measuring tape which in some cases leads to rounding up or down to the nearest 5 or 0;
     - Assessment performed in dim light settings;

• Inability to document/estimate correct age;
• Data entry error by user.

In 2016, UNICEF launched a Target Product Profile (TPP) to outline the high-level performance requirements for a height/length measurement devices. The document was revised in late 2017.
A Request for Proposals for samples for field trial was released in October 2017.

Related Information

Providing portable, accurate and child friendly height & length measurement devices, April 2017

UNICEF Target Product Profiles webpage




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