Background. Swaziland adopted the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidelines for the inpatient treatment of severely malnourished children in 2007 to reduce case -fatality rates for childhood malnutrition. However, no follow-up studies have been conducted to determine the reduction in the case -fatality rate post-implementation of the guidelines.
Objectives. To determine the case -fatality rate for childhood malnutrition post-implementation of the WHO treatment guidelines and determine the level of adherence to the guidelines at Mbabane Government Hospital.
Methods. A retrospective observational study was undertaken. All children under 5 years admitted for inpatient treatment of malnutrition between January 2010 and December 2011 had their demographic-, anthropometric- and clinical characteristics recorded and analysed, as well as the outcome of admission.
Results. Of the 227 children admitted during the study period, 179 (64.6%) were severely malnourished and 98 (35.4%) had moderate malnutrition. One-hundred-and-eleven children died during admission, an overall case -fatality rate of 40.1%. Mortality was significantly higher among severely malnourished children compared to those with moderate malnutrition, (46.9% vs 27.6%, OR 3.0 (95% CI 1.7 to 5.3)). Comorbid pneumonia and gastroenteritis were significant predictors of mortality – , OR 2.0 (95% CI 1.2 to 3.4) and 1.9 (95% CI 1.1 to 3.2) respectively.
Conclusion. Case -fatality rates for childhood malnutrition remain high, despite adoption of the WHO treatment guidelines. A need exists for improved adherence to the WHO guidelines and periodic clinical audits to reduce deaths from childhood malnutrition to meet the WHO mortality target of less than 5% and improve child survival.