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Lancet. 2004 Nov 20-26;364(9448):1899-909.

Public nutrition in complex emergencies.

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Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy of Tufts University, Medford, MA, USA.


Public nutrition is 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. This 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 at-risk groups, including infants, pregnant and lactating women, elderly people, and people living with HIV. 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.

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