POPLINE Database Helps a Nutrition Expert in Zimbabwe Create Evidence-Based Programs

When a program manager identifies a global development or health need, she then faces a new challenge: how to find the knowledge that will help lead to an effective program. This is why Tendai Gunda, a nutrition expert who primarily works in Zimbabwe, continues to turn to POPLINE for the information she needs to build, implement and evaluate programs. POPLINE is also seen as a resource for sharing and synthesizing new knowledge for policymakers, health care providers, researchers and teachers.

POPLINE is a bibliographic database that was established nearly 40 years ago as a comprehensive collection of population, family planning and related reproductive health and development literature. In 2001, POPLINE developed its own searchable website and, in the same year, became part of the Information and Knowledge for Optimal Health (INFO) project, now the Knowledge for Health (K4Health) Project. POPLINE complements K4Health’s central mission of sharing public health knowledge at the global, regional and country levels. For POPLINE, this means building a database of journal articles along with published and unpublished scientific, technical and programmatic publications. Interventions covered in this “gray literature” tend to be more up-to-date and represent a more diverse geographic spread and languages other than English. By including these resources, POPLINE ensures researchers gain faster access to unbiased programmatic information. Gunda found herself using POPLINE’s broad catalog as both a student and program manager. “When I was in school I introduced [POPLINE] to several people,” she noted.

Tendai Gunda

While completing her Master’s degree, Gunda also used resources from POPLINE to help her set up, run and evaluate the Community-based Management of Malnutrition program with the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare in three districts of Zimbabwe. She found the scientific and programmatic knowledge she needed in the work of Michael Golden, a renowned nutritionist, whose work can be found on POPLINE in both peer-reviewed studies and project reports. Gunda used these resources to gain an understanding of the issues and set benchmarks for the program. Even more important, she had the evidence base she needed to find support for the program. “[Information from POPLINE] helped me really understand the background and context of childhood malnutrition. It helped me get buy-in from the government because I had the scientific background.”

The operational and planning knowledge that can be so valuable to program managers is often locked up inside peer reviewed literature. Through POPLINE, Gunda tapped into knowledge captured in published and unpublished literature as she set out to create knowledge through new programs. “POPLINE is my go-to place when I need information,” says Gunda. She continues to use the database in her current work with the International Organization for Migration. POPLINE’s clients—Gunda and thousands of other public health practitioners—move forward K4Health’s goal of ensuring access to the latest knowledge to save and improve people's lives.

Visit POPLINE to search for up-to-date population, family planning and reproductive health and development literature.