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Public Nutrition in Complex Emergencies

Published paper1

A recent review of public nutrition in complex emergencies has been published in the LANCET. The paper is based on the personal bibliographic databases of the authors combined with a search of published work using MEDLINE, FirstSearch, Web of Science, JSTOR, ScienceDirect and Ingenta. The paper defines public nutrition as a broad-based, problem- solving approach to addressing malnutrition in complex emergencies that combines analysis of nutritional risk and vulnerability with action-oriented strategies, including policies, programmes, and capacity development.

The paper focuses on six broad areas; nutritional assessment, distribution of a general food ration, prevention and treatment of moderate malnutrition, treatment of severe malnutrition in children and adults, prevention and treatment of micronutrient deficiency diseases and nutritional support for atrisk groups including infants, pregnant and lactating women, elderly people and people living with HIV. The paper concludes that learning and documenting good practice from previous emergencies, the promotion of good practice in current emergencies and adherence to international standards and guidelines have contributed to establishing the field of public nutrition. However, many practical challenges reduce the effectiveness of nutritional interventions in complex emergencies and important research and programmatic questions remain.

Many gaps, challenges and constraints are highlighted in the paper. These include the need for;

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1Young H, et al (2004); Public nutrition in complex emergencies, The LANCET, vol 365, November 20th, pp 1899- 1909

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Public Nutrition in Complex Emergencies. Field Exchange 24, March 2005. p6. www.ennonline.net/fex/24/publicnutrition

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