Sepsis in children is a complex syndrome that develops from various infections and results in 15-30% mortality in high-income countries and up to 50% or higher in low-income countries. Worldwide, this represents an annual burden of 30 million cases resulting in 8 million deaths. Not surprisingly, there is a significantly higher burden in low-income countries with children there being 18 times more likely to die before the age of 5 years compared to high-income countries. Factors such as commercial air travel, climate change, and unchecked population growth have contributed to the growing burden of infectious diseases and ensuing sepsis. Improving public awareness of sepsis; increasing access to essential medicines and vaccines; improving use of evidence-based treatment guidelines; raising awareness of antimicrobial resistance, encouraging antibiotic stewardship; and, developing resilient health systems that can cope with health crises are all important challenges. Advocacy in these areas can assist nations in reaching the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) of low rates of neonatal and under-5 mortality.
On May 26, 2017, the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization, adopted a resolution proposed by the Global Sepsis Alliance to improve the prevention, diagnosis, and management of sepsis.The resolution highlights sepsis as a global threat and urges the 194 United Nations member states to take specific actions and implement appropriate measures to reduce its human and health economic burden. The resolution is a major step toward achieving the targets outlined by the Sustainable Developmental Goals for decreasing mortality in infants and children, but implementing it will require a concerted global effort.