One key to utilization of laboratory data to monitor and interpret micronutrient status or gauge program coverage of a particular micronutrient is to partner with a program that ensures the quality of data. To assist laboratories, or those who are using laboratory data, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention operates three external inorganic quality assurance programs out of their inorganic external quality assurance (EQAS) laboratory.
Ensuring the Quality of Urinary Iodine Procedures program (EQUIP) is one of these programs developed and maintained to assist laboratories worldwide to gauge the quality of their performance in measuring urinary iodine in addition to addressing a number of quality assurance issues related to testing the populations iodine sufficiency. Because iodine deficiency disorder (IDD) is one of the world’s leading causes for intellectual impairment and brain damage, the EQUIP program continues to try and reach out to iodine laboratories worldwide to help ensure laboratory data is as accurate as possible.
Although much has been done to address the issue of IDD, deficiency in this micronutrient still affects about 2 billion people worldwide. Since EQUIP was established in 2001 the program has grown to support over 200 laboratories in over 80 countries and has sent out over 50,000 samples to participating laboratories.
During the 15 years of EQUIP’s operation essential data and lessons have been gained on numerous methods, situations, and solutions to the many problems and obstacles these laboratories must overcome in order to successfully monitor the iodine nutritional status of their population.