On Friday, May 26th, 2017, the World Health Assembly and the World Health Organization made sepsis a global health priority, by adopting a resolution to improve, prevent, diagnose, and manage sepsis. This marks a quantum leap in the global fight against sepsis.
Sepsis, commonly referred to as ‘blood poisoning’, is the life-threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to infection results in organ dysfunction or failure. Sepsis is often confused with other conditions in its early stages, with delayed recognition of the signs and symptoms quickly leading to multi-system organ failure and ultimately death.
The resolution urges the 194 United Nation Member States to implement appropriate measures to reduce the human and health economic burden of sepsis. In the USA alone, sepsis causes or contributes to half of all deaths in hospitals and has become the leading cause of annual hospitals costs, at over 24 billion USD per year.
The resolution also requests the Director-General of the WHO, Dr. Margaret Chan, to draw attention to the public health impact of sepsis and to 1) publish a report on sepsis and its global consequences by the end of 2018, 2) support the Member States adequately, 3) collaborate with other UN organizations, and 4) report to the 2020 WHA on the implementation of this resolution.
“Community-acquired and health care-acquired sepsis represent a huge global burden that has been estimated to be 31 million cases every year, six million of which result in death,” said Dr. Chan. “One in ten patients world-wide acquires one health care associated infection which often manifests itself with sepsis conditions. I commend the member states for the content of the resolution on sepsis which point to key actions that need to be taken to reverse these shocking statistics.”
The WHO has allocated $4.6 million USD to help implement their sepsis resolution.
The adoption of sepsis as a global priority was initiated by the Global Sepsis Alliance who gathered the consensus and authority of clinicians and families from over 70 countries.
“Worldwide, sepsis is one of the most common deadly diseases, and it is one of the few conditions to strike with equal ferocity in resource-poor areas and in the developed world,” said Dr. Konrad Reinhart, Chairman of the Global Sepsis Alliance. “In the developed world, sepsis is dramatically increasing by an annual rate of 5-13 per cent over the last decade, and now claims more lives than bowel and breast cancer combined. When sepsis is quickly recognized and treated, lives are saved but health care providers need better training because they are the critical link to preventing, recognizing, and treating sepsis.