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Improving child survival: Malnutrition Task Force and the paediatrician’s responsibility
  1. A A Jackson1,
  2. A Ashworth2,
  3. S Khanum3
  1. 1Institute of Human Nutrition, University of Southampton, UK
  2. 2London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK; Convenor, Malnutrition Task Force
  3. 3World Health Organisation, Geneva, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to:
    Prof. A A Jackson
    Institute of Human Nutrition, Southampton General Hospital (MP 113), Tremona Road, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK; aaj{at}


Malnutrition (underweight) contributes to approximately 60% of all child deaths, yet health professionals, policy makers, and donor agencies often fail to recognise its relevance to child survival. There is a need for the paediatric community to champion the importance of adequate nutrition for normal growth and development, and of placing sufficient emphasis on the prevention and treatment of malnutrition. Many severely malnourished children die from inappropriate treatment. Case fatality rates of 25–30% are commonly found and in some hospitals as many as 50–70% will die. Many of these deaths are avoidable. Weaknesses in health systems, inappropriate training of doctors and nurses, inadequate supervision, and lack of support for staff all contribute to compromised quality of care. The International Union of Nutritional Sciences, with support from the International Pediatric Association, Launched a global Malnutrition Task Force in 2005. The main objective is to ensure that an integrated system of prevention and treatment of malnutrition is actively supported as a fundamental aspect of care, and becomes an integral part of all training programmes.

  • malnutrition
  • case-management guidelines
  • medical education
  • paediatric training
  • child survival

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  • Competing interests: none declared