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Shining a spotlight on maternal and neonatal sepsis: World Sepsis Day 2017

by Public Health Update

Shining a spotlight on maternal and neonatal sepsis: World Sepsis Day 2017

WHO calls for prevention of life-threatening condition

Shining a spotlight on maternal and neonatal sepsis: World Sepsis Day 2017: 12 September 2017: Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to infection causes injury to its own tissues and organs. As infections frequently complicate serious diseases, sepsis is a final common pathway to death from both communicable and non-communicable diseases around the world. If sepsis develops during pregnancy, while or after giving birth, or after an abortion, it is called maternal sepsis. Sepsis in newborn babies is called neonatal sepsis.

Despite being highly preventable, maternal and neonatal sepsis continues to be a major cause of death and
 morbidity for pregnant or recently pregnant women and newborn babies. Infections are the primary cause
 of approximately 35000 maternal deaths every year. As a primary or contributing cause, sepsis can be
associated with up to 100000 maternal deaths every year. Neonatal sepsis kills around 1 million newborn
babies every year.

Risk factors: When health facilities are overcrowded and poorly resourced women are at greater risk of infection and sepsis. Women who undergo caesarean sections in such conditions are at even greater risk. Health workers are also often unaware of the signs and symptoms of sepsis and so are unable to recognise the condition and treat it in time.
Sepsis can be prevented
One of the greatest tragedies of the thousands of deaths caused by sepsis, is that they could have been easily prevented. As Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus outlines in his video address, we know what can be done to reduce the risk of sepsis:

  • access to clean water and sanitation;
  • access to quality care during pregnancy and birth;
  • responsible and timely access to the right medicines;
  • proper infection prevention and control in hospitals and clinics.
    In addition, health workers need to be adequately trained and skilled to be able to recognise the signs of sepsis and to treat the condition effectively.


Reducing sepsis-related deaths can be achieved by attention to simple health measures in healthcare
facilities during the peripartum period, such as:

  • Promoting handwashing
  • Ensuring clean birth practices
  • Reducing overcrowding in facilities
  • Improving access to water and sanitation
  • Strengthening infection prevention and control measures

Source of info : Global Maternal & Neonatal Sepsis Initiative 


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