The World Health Organization has said that, if its treatment guidelines are followed, the death rate in children admitted to hospital can be kept as low as 5%, but it is more common for 20% or over to die. Severe malnutrition is a major contributing factor in the deaths of 1.5 million children every year.
In an article in PLoS Medicine, Professor Geert Tom Heikens, Professor of Paediatrics in Blantyre, Malawi discusses whether the problem is that the guidelines are not followed properly or whether some malnourished children need additional treatment. He identified a research paper from Kenya, recently published in PLoS Medicine as having made an important step towards answering this question.
But he says further studies are still needed: "Only then will we be able to deliver adequate care to millions of young children whose problems have hitherto not been addressed by the child survival agenda".