Guidelines for the inpatient treatment of severely malnourished children

World Health Organization

Publication details

Number of pages: 48
Publication date: 2003
Languages: English (2003), French (2004), Spanish (2004), Turkish (2003)
ISBN: 92 4 154609 3 (English/Turkish), 92 4 254609 7 (French), 92 4 354609 0 (Spanish)



Severely malnourished children need special care. This book provides, simple practical guidelines for treating these children successfully and takes into account the limited resources of many hospitals and health units in developing countries. It is intended for doctors, nurses, dieticians and other health workers with responsibility for the medical and dietary management of severely malnourished children, and for their trainers and supervisors.

The guidelines are authoritative and hospitals using them report substantial reductions in mortality. Management of severe acute malnutrition according to WHO guidelines reduced the case-fatality rate by 55% and recent studies suggest that commodities, such as ready-to-use therapeutic foods, can be used to manage severe acute malnutrition in community settings. The instructions are clear, concise, and easy to follow and the information is consistent with other WHO publications. The aim is to help improve the quality of inpatient care and so prevent unnecessary deaths.

The guidelines can be used as a practical ten-step treatment tool and as additional support material to the WHO training course on the management of severe malnutrition.