Publication Date:

01 Dec 2006


Bucens IK, Maclennan C. (2006) Survey of childhood malnutrition at Dili National Hospital, East Timor. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health. 2006;42(1-2):28-32.



Objectives: To describe the characteristics and short‐term outcomes of children with malnutrition admitted to Dili National Hospital (DNH), East Timor.

Methods: A prospective observational survey using caretaker interviews and medical record review was conducted on the paediatric ward at DNH for 12 months from March 2002. Patients were children aged 2 months to 12 years, admitted with moderate to severe malnutrition as either a primary or secondary diagnosis.

Results: Malnutrition was present in 31.8% (280/880) of paediatric admissions during the study period. Sixty‐one per cent of the malnutrition cases were severe malnutrition (weight‐for‐height below −3 Z‐scores and/or oedema) and 53.7% were both wasted and stunted. The hospital case‐fatality rate was 12.9% (36/280). Immunization coverage was low, with 39% of cases never immunized and 29% incompletely immunized according to the national immunization schedule.

Conclusions: There is a high rate of malnutrition among paediatric inpatients at DNH, consistent with results of anthropometric surveys in the newly independent East Timor. Despite the introduction of a standardized protocol following WHO guidelines and associated training on the management of severe malnutrition, the hospital case‐fatality rate for severe malnutrition was still high (12.9%).


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