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Open Access Home-based treatment of acute malnutrition in Cambodian urban poor communities

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Background. The prevalence of malnutrition in Cambodia is among the highest in Southeast Asia. Until recently, there has been a consensus that the treatment and rehabilitation of acutely severely malnourished children should take place in hospitals; however, limited local health resources often place constraints upon the inpatient management of these children.

Objective. This study reviews the outcomes of a community nutrition program designed to rehabilitate children under the age of 5 years with moderate or severe acute malnutrition living in a poor urban community in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Methods. Clinical records of the program participants during the period from January 1999 to November 2006 were reviewed. Attainment of recovery weight-for-height z-scores, the length of time taken to achieve this recovery, rates of weight gain, mortality rate, and rate of default were determined from the data.

Results. One hundred fifty-nine children aged 4 years or younger with a mean admission weight-for-height z-score of –3.3 were treated. The mean outcome weight-for-height z-score was –1.5. Eighty-seven children (55%) reached a weight-for-height z-score ≥ –1 over a mean period of 14 weeks of rehabilitation. The average rate of weight gain was 4 g/kg/day. The case fatality rate was 5.6%.

Conclusions. This program is an example of effective, community-based rehabilitation of children with moderate or severe acute malnutrition in an urban, Southeast Asian, non-humanitarian-relief context, through a combination of nutritional education, regular home visiting, and food support.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • Established in 1978, the Food and Nutrition Bulletin (FNB) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by the Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation.

    The focus of the journal is to highlight original scientific articles on nutrition research, policy analyses, and state-of-the-art summaries relating to multidisciplinary efforts to alleviate the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world.

    Food and Nutrition Bulletin's 2012 Impact Factor: 2.106

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