Severe Malnutrition Still Leading Cause of Child Mortality

1638 Views Kampala, Uganda
Many Ugandan children are continuing to die from ailments associated with severe malnutrition, despite the existing World Health Organization guidelines for the care and management of malnourished children. A new study conducted by the Uganda Medical Research Institute, Makerere University's Department of Pediatrics and Oxford University reveals that 20 percent of severely malnourished children admitted in Uganda's hospitals die of their ailments. This is despite the existing WHO guidelines at all hospitals in the country and the availability of staff. According to the report, fatality rates about five percent are unacceptable. It noted that in Uganda, these could be attributed to poorly trained staff, faulty practices and poor compliance with the WHO guidelines. Dr. Jane Bbosa, Director of the Makerere University Hospital who participated in the study, says researchers followed the progress of 920 severely malnourished children admitted to Jinja Hospital for clinical and nutritional rehabilitation. The hospital serves a rural population of over 230,000 of which more than 40 percent of the children under five years are malnourished. According to Dr. Bbosa the Jinja Hospital pediatric ward admits more than 5,000 children each year, with severe malnutrition being the fourth most common cause of admission. She said the hospital currently reports a death rate of approximately 19 per cent among children admitted with severe malnutrition, even with the implementation of the WHO guidelines. Among the 10-step guidelines for the routine care of severely malnourished children are prescribed treatment for dehydration, hypothermia and electrolyte imbalance. It also includes recommendations for catch-up growth, sensory stimulation and emotional support, as well as preparation for follow-up after recovery. The study concluded that there were loopholes in the implementation of the guidelines that caused the continued fatalities. It called for a review of the guidelines.