Late presentation to hospital services necessitates greater community-based care for malnourished children.
The records for all paediatric deaths (ages 0-14) in a large hospital in urban Southern Africa were examined for a 3 year period (January 2007 to February 2010), to explore the role of malnutrition in paediatric mortality in this region. A total of 516 records were obtained, demonstrating that malnutrition was the primary or secondary cause of death in 35% of cases. It was also found that children presented very late to hospital services, with an average length of final admission of only 0-3 days. The rate of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection was found to be very high, although low testing rates limits the analysis of these figures. Malnutrition remains an important factor in paediatric mortality in southern Africa, contributing to approximately 35% of deaths. Furthermore, fatal cases presented very late to hospital services. In light of this, increased community-based therapy would be beneficial. Implementation of universal HIV testing would also be valuable.