New WHO guidelines on treating severe acute malnutrition in children

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WHO/Z. Weise-Prinzo

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued new treatment guidelines for children under-five who have severe acute malnutrition.

Close to 20 million children worldwide are suffering from the condition. Severe acute malnutrition is when children suffer severe wasting that may or may not be accompanied by swelling of the body from fluid retention.

Now, children with no evident medical complications can be effectively treated at home with specially-formulated foods that provide energy and nutrients and antibiotic medicines.

Dr Francesco Branca is the Director of WHO's Department of Nutrition for Health and Development.

"Now we have some high energy foods which can be consumed in the community. So the community management of acute malnutrition actually helped reduce dramatically mortality for severe acute malnutrition. So that is probably the main element now reflecting in this …. is a new way to treat children with new tools. But also some better understanding and approaches to treating children with HIV infection. And probably the third important element is now clarity about how to deal with children less than 6 months."

Fifteen years ago, WHO guidelines recommended that all severely malnourished children be hospitalized, given fortified formula milk and appropriate treatment including antibiotics.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 1’28″

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