This study assessed management of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) by healthcare
professionals using WHO guidelines in children 6-59 months of age. The study used a
quantitative approach and a descriptive design to assess the abilities of 156 healthcare
professionals to effectively apply WHO SAM guidelines using a self-administered questionnaire.
The sampled participants consisted of 18 (12%) dieticians, 24 (15%) doctors, 2 (1%)
paediatricians and 112 (72%) nurses. The results indicated that on the treatment of
hypoglycaemia, only n=24 (15%) responded according to WHO guidelines, which is giving 10%
glucose or sugar solution, and feeding F75 formula straightaway on admission, whereas n=69
(44%) reported that 10% glucose is given and n=32 (21%) reported the administration of F75
formula. In the correction of micronutrient deficiencies, n=109 (70%) of the healthcare
professionals knew the guidelines as recommended by WHO. On initiating feeding, the majority
n=88 (57%) of healthcare professionals were knowledgeable about initiating feeding or cautious
feeding in children with severe malnutrition. Even though the results of the study showed that
most of the healthcare professionals have knowledge of most of WHO guidelines when treating
severely malnourished children, however there is still a course for concern as n=136 (85%) of
healthcare professional did not know the treatment of hypoglycaemia as recommended by WHO.
In view of this there is still a need for continuous training for the development of healthcare
professionals’ knowledge, skills and resources that are required to treat this group of children.