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Improving estimates of the burden of severe wasting: analysis of secondary prevalence and incidence data from 352 sites.Introduction Estimates of incident cases of severe wasting among young children are not available for most settings but are needed for optimal planning of treatment programmes and burden estimation. To improve programme planning, global guidance recommends a single ‘incidence correction factor’ of 1.6 be applied to available prevalence estimates to account for incident cases. This study aimed to update estimates of the incidence correction factor to improve programme planning and inform the approach to burden estimation for severe wasting. Methods A global call was issued for secondary data from severe wasting treatment programmes including prevalence, population size, programme admission and programme coverage through a UNICEF-led effort. Site-specific incidence correction factors were calculated as the number of incident cases (annual programme admissions/programme coverage) divided by the number of prevalent cases (prevalence*population size). Estimates were aggregated by country, region and overall using inverse-variance weighted random-effects meta-analysis. Results We estimated incidence correction factors from 352 sites in 20 countries. Estimates aggregated by country ranged from 1.3 (Nigeria) to 30.1 (Burundi). Excluding implausible values, the overall incidence correction factor was 3.6 (95% CI 3.4 to 3.9). Conclusion Our results suggest that incidence correction factors vary between sites and that the burden of severe wasting will often be underestimated using the currently recommended incidence correction factor of 1.6. Application of updated incidence correction factors represents a simple way to improve programme planning when incidence data are not available and could inform the approach to burden estimation.