Early detection of Sepsis

  • Pregnant women sitting in row
Have you visited a public health facility and wondered why it looks so unclean and disorganised?

Imagine the level of infections pregnant women and newborns would be exposed to in such an environment. Intensifying preventive measures will contribute to the reduction of Maternal and Newborn mortality associated with sepsis.  

Let me break it down; imagine that the body is a nation, the immune system is the army and soldiers of the army include the white blood cells. When there is an impending attack on the body, the soldiers rush to protect the body (this is what the immune system does; protecting the body against attack from foreign invaders that can cause harm to the body, such as bacteria, viruses and so on). Sometimes the immune soldiers can be overly protective and harm your body system in the process of protecting it.

This harm is generally referred to as Sepsis

It is a life threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to infection causes injury to its own tissues or organs, and these infections are mostly caused by bacteria, virus or fungi.  

In Sub Saharan Africa 1 out of every 5 newborn deaths (1) from sepsis occurs in Nigeria. According to the WHO, Sepsis has been identified as the leading cause of death and morbidity for pregnant mothers and newborn babies.

Even though it is highly preventable, there are occasions whereby health care workers are unaware of the symptoms and do not detect it early enough to administer treatment. This has serious health implications in achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs) target for child survival (2).  

In Nigeria, the hygiene conditions, overcrowding level of our hospitals and the high rate of unskilled health personnel in many of the public health facilities to examine their level of Infection prevention and control practices, especially in the rural and semi-urban areas who are charged with the responsibilities of maternal/newborn health, brings the reality that corroborates why 1 in 10 maternal deaths occurs during child birth and 1 in 6 newborn deaths in Nigeria is caused by sepsis (1).   

Maternal sepsis mostly occurs within 6 weeks of delivery, and neonatal sepsis occurs when a newborn baby acquires this bacterial infection from the mother either during pregnancy or delivery. Simple steps such as early detection, screening and treatment with antibiotics will go a long way in reducing the impact of sepsis on Maternal and Newborn Heath (MNH). 

As we mark the World Sepsis Day, MamaYe-Evidence4Action continues to push for the prioritisation of Maternal and Newborn Health by policy makers and health workers in developing health policies, implementing  programmes, awareness campaigns and trainings that will reduce maternal and newborn death indices at National, Regional and Global levels. Also efforts should be made to effectively detect these infections early and treat maternal and neonatal sepsis. 

Stop sepsis, keep mothers and babies alive.

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