24 Apr, 2018

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Chikumbutso: ADT has economic benefits as compared to BMI
Former LUANAR NRC Campus student is one of the finalists who will travel to Boston, USA in June this year to compete in the second edition of the Elevator Pitch Contest.

Sight and Life, a nutrition think tank, will be hosting the Elevator Pitch Contest at the American Society for Nutrition conference in Boston, 9-12th of June 2018. The theme is Nutrition Assessment.

Elevator Pitch Contest is a competition amongst innovators, with disruptive ideas that will change the current way nutrition is measured. Whether a cutting-edge product, service, technology, or application in nutrition assessment, the concept needs to advance and improve the existing approaches in a meaningful way.

Chikumbutso Chibwinja who graduated from LUANAR in 2016 with a Diploma in Food Nutrition and Livelihood Security developed an Arm Distance Technique (ADT), an alternativeto Body Mass Index in Adults (BMI) which earned him a spot in the competition finale.

According to Chikumbutso, ADT is a new and unpublished self-service adult nutrition assessment technique he invented.

“The ultimate purpose of the Arm Distance Technique (ADT) is to reduce the workload, technical complexity and equipment costs involved in regular assessments to determine Body Mass Index (BMI) while maintaining BMI results efficiency and effectiveness through a simplified format,” said Chikumbutso.

He was motivated to apply for the Pitch Contest after he got the call for application circulated by the Department of Human Nutrition and Health at LUANAR Bunda Campus. He submitted four ideas, one of which was the ADT.

“I am very happy for being selected to present in Boston at American Society for Nutrition, but above all, Glory be to God for his relentless mercies! This is something that I was not expecting,” said Chikumbutso.

Asked if the Ministry of Health is aware of the innovation, he said “The technique is not known by Ministry of Health because it's not yet published but we collected validation data last month.”
Chikumbutso strongly believes that ADT is of great importance to the nation because it has multiple merits over Body Mass Index (BMI) measures currently in use.

Once adopted, the innovation sets Malawi as one of the countries contributing to development of nutrition assessment methods rather than just an adopter of methods developed elsewhere.

“ADT also has economic benefits since there is no cost of operations except a little (3 seconds),” said Chikumbutso.

Miss Zione Kalumikiza, Deputy Head for Department of Food and Human Nutrition, said as a Department, they encourage students to take part in competitions like this one.

“Competitions like this are important in many ways. They reward innovation hence breed further innovations. This is good for not only the student, but also the society at large which benefits from the solutions that the innovations generate,” said Miss Kalumikiza.

She said competitions are also an opportunity for institutions like LUANAR and the country to be recognized globallyfor its talent and potential, saying for the students, there is additional exposure and an opportunity to network for even bigger projects.

“The world is looking for solutions and yours could be the next big solution, you never know till you try. Students must take up such challenges and master the art of communicating their ideas in the shortest yet most convincing way. Everything else will follow a good pitch,” she said.

Finalists like Chikumbutso, won a round trip flight along with accommodation to Boston in order to participate in the American Society for Nutrition’s ‘Nutrition 2018’ and pitch their idea in front of a panel of experts and potential investors. Winners will receive a cash award of up to $2,000 USD.