n South African Medical Journal - Management of severe acute malnutrition : continuing medical education - article

Volume 105, Issue 7
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



Malnutrition remains a global health concern and contributes significantly to childhood mortality. Nearly half of all deaths in children < 5 years of age are attributed to undernutrition, especially in developing countries. It is important to differentiate between acute and chronic malnutrition, as the management and mortality for these two conditions differ. Management should follow integrative management protocols to ensure that mortality and morbidity are minimised. General principles for inpatient management of acute malnutrition can be divided into two phases, i.e. the initial stabilisation phase (usually in the first week) for acute complications, and the much longer rehabilitation phase. The initial phase lasts approximately 1 week and involves intensive monitoring and treatment. Severe acute malnutrition remains a problem in public health, especially in developing countries. Adhering to programmatic approaches for diagnosis and management ensures lower mortality rates and better outcomes.

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