What Is Sepsis?

Sepsis is the final common pathway to death from most infectious diseases worldwide.

It arises when the body’s response to an infection injures its own tissues and organs. It may lead to shock, multiple organ failure, and death, especially if not recognized early and treated promptly. 

It affects about 30 million people per year; of whom 6 to 9 million die. Many surviving patients suffer from the consequences for the rest of their lives.

Sepsis is the second most common cause of death worldwide and number one cause of preventable death. The majority of these cases and deaths occur in Africa – at least 2 million deaths. In addition, since sepsis affects younger people in Africa, it is associated with a disproportionate number of years of life lost. However, there is limited data, research and quality improvement initiatives from Africa, a continent with the highest incidence of infections and expected to be associated with worse outcomes. The improvements in sepsis care that have been made in high income countries also need to occur in Africa.

To learn more about sepsis, we recommend watching this short video by our friends at the Global Sepsis Alliance:

Besides English and French, this video is also available in Spanish, PortugueseItalian, Turkish, and German (YouTube links).



For sepsis-related material, please download the fact sheet on sepsis in Africa below or visit the toolkit sections from our friends at World Sepsis Day.