WHO calls for global action on sepsis


  • Dawn O'Shea
  • Univadis Medical News
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The World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) first global report on sepsis says efforts to prevent deaths and disabilities due to sepsis are being hampered by serious gaps in knowledge.

The Global Report on the Epidemiology and Burden of Sepsis says there are 49 million cases each year, resulting in 11 million deaths, including 2.9 million in children.

Obstetric infections are the third most common cause of maternal mortality, according to the report. For every 1,000 women giving birth, 11 experience infection-related, severe organ dysfunction or death.

Around half (49%) of patients with sepsis in intensive care units (ICUs) acquired the infection in hospital. An estimated 27 per cent of people with sepsis in hospitals and 42 per cent of people in ICUs will die.

The report says progress in improving sanitation and infection prevention must be coupled with early diagnosis, appropriate clinical management, and access to safe and affordable medicines and vaccines, saying these interventions could prevent 84 per cent of newborn deaths due to sepsis.

The WHO is calling for rapid, affordable and appropriate diagnostic tools, particularly for primary and secondary levels of care, to improve sepsis identification, surveillance, prevention and treatment.

Furthermore, it says, health workers must be better educated not to underestimate the risk of infections evolving to sepsis.