Management of severe malnutrition:

a manual for physicians and other senior health workers

World Health Organization

Publication details

Number of pages: 60
Publication date: 1999
Languages: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish
ISBN: 92 4 154511 9



Malnutrition remains one of the most common underlying causes of morbidity and mortality among children worldwide. Severe malnutrition in children under 5 years of age is the end result of chronic nutritional and, frequently, emotional deprivation by carers. Successful management of the severely malnourished child requires that medical, nutritional and social problems be recognized and corrected. If malnutrition is viewed as being only a medical disorder, the child is likely to replace when he or she returns home, and other children in the family will remain at risk of developing the same problem.

This manual provides practical guidelines for the management of children with severe malnutrition. It seeks to promote the best available therapy so as to reduce the risk of death, shorten the length of time spent in hospital, and facilitate rehabilitation and full recovery. Emphasis is given to the management of severely malnourished children in hospital and health centres; the management of severely malnourished children in disaster situations and refugee camps and of severely malnourished adolescents and adults is also considered briefly.

This manual is principally intended for health personnel working at central and district level, including physicians, nurses, nutritionists, dietitians and auxiliary staff, as well as for aid organizations and those working in refugee camps.