Integrating nutrition into health systems: What the evidence advocates

Rehana A. Salam, Jai K. Das, Zulfiqar A. Bhutta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


There is considerable evidence of positive health and nutrition outcomes resulting from integrating nutrition-specific interventions into health systems; however, current knowledge on establishing and sustaining effective integration of nutrition into health systems is limited. The objective of this review is to map the existing types of integration platforms and review the evidence on integrated health and nutrition programmes' impacts on specific nutrition outcomes. A literature search was conducted, and integrated nutrition programmes were examined through the lens of the six World Health Organization (WHO) building blocks, including the demand side. Forty-five studies were included in this review, outlining the integration of nutrition-specific interventions with various programmes, including integrated community case management and Integrated Management of Childhood Illness, Child Health Days, immunization, early child development, and cash transfers. Limited quantitative data were suggestive of some positive impact on nutrition and non-nutrition outcomes with no adverse effects on primary programme delivery. Through the lens of the six WHO building blocks, service delivery and health workforce were found to be well-integrated, but governance, information systems, finance and supplies and technology were less well-integrated. Integrating nutrition-specific interventions into health systems may ensure efficient service delivery while having an impact on nutrition outcomes. There is no single successful model of integration; it varies according to the context and demands of the particular setting in which integration occurs. There is a need for more well-planned programmes considering all the health systems building blocks to ensure compliance and sustainability.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12738
JournalMaternal and Child Nutrition
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019


  • health integration
  • health system
  • integration
  • nutrition
  • nutrition programmes
  • nutrition specific


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