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Sepsis is a major cause of critical illness worldwide, especially in resource-poor settings. Intensive care units (ICUs) in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) face many challenges that could affect patient outcome. The aim of this review is to describe differences between resource-poor and resource-rich settings regarding the epidemiology, pathophysiology, economics, and research aspects of sepsis. We restricted this manuscript to the ICU setting although we are aware that many sepsis patients in LMICs are treated outside an ICU. Although many bacterial pathogens causing sepsis in LMICs are similar to those in high-income countries, resistance patterns to antimicrobial drugs can be very different; in addition, causes of sepsis in LMICs often include tropical diseases in which direct damaging effects of pathogens and their products can be more important than the host response. There are differences in ICU capacities around the world; not surprisingly the lowest capacities are found in LMICs with important heterogeneity within individual LMICs. Although many aspects of sepsis management developed in resource-rich countries are applicable in LMICs, implementation requires strong consideration of cost implications and important differences in resources. Addressing both disease-specific and setting-specific factors is important to improve performance of ICUs in LMICs. Although critical care for sepsis is likely cost-effective in LMIC setting, more detailed evaluation at both a macro- and micro-economy level is necessary. Sepsis management in resource-limited settings is a largely unexplored frontier with important opportunities for research, training, and other initiatives for improvement.



Publication Date



Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand