Sepsis is a complication that arises when the human body mounts an indiscriminate, and overt, response to an infection. Sepsis is a medical emergency. If not diagnosed and treated early, sepsis can lead to irreversible tissue damage, septic shock, multiple organ failure and potentially death. Septic shock is a severe type of sepsis in which the circulatory, cellular, and metabolic abnormalities are associated with a greater risk of mortality than with sepsis alone.

Approximately 31 million new sepsis cases occur each year, resulting in 6 million deaths annually. The burden of sepsis is highest in low and middle-income countries, where it represents a major cause of maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. However, estimating the precise global epidemiological burden of sepsis is difficult, due to limitations in diagnosis and reporting.

The occurrence, frequency, and fatality of sepsis are determined by complex interplaying factors including host immunity, causative pathogen, timely diagnosis, and access to quality care. Most sepsis occurs as a complication of common preventable infections in the community (community acquired infection). It also frequently results from infections acquired in healthcare settings, especially among immunocompromised patients. Healthcare acquired infections are often resistant to antibiotics. This makes the management of these infections challenging, and are often associated with poor patient outcome; and higher economic burden.

Sepsis is frequently undetected and/or misdiagnosed, during initial onset when it is effectively treatable. Increasing awareness of the clinical manifestations of sepsis in the community, building capacity for early detection, appropriate timely management, and reporting, are some of the major challenges facing effective prevention and control of sepsis.