Understanding and improving the diagnosis of maternal sepsis in Malawi

A multi-phased, mixed-method study to understand the patient journey and develop a diagnostic multimarker panel for maternal sepsis in pregnant and postpartum women.


Maternal sepsis accounts for 11.5% of maternal deaths worldwide and is the third most common cause of maternal deaths, after postpartum haemorrhage and pre-eclampsia. sepsis is a highly lethal condition, and without prompt recognition and appropriate treatment, it can quickly cause death. The rapidly progressive nature of this condition makes it challenging to diagnose and treat, especially in low-resource settings.

Broad objective

To explore patient experiences of maternal sepsis along the care pathways and use a multimarker approach to design a biomarker diagnostic test.

Specific objectives

To explore the experiences of survivors of maternal sepsis to influence current sepsis management policy changes and realign treatment and care practices.
To develop a novel multimarker panel to diagnose maternal sepsis compared to a single biomarker diagnostic test.
For the patient journey component, in-depth interviews and journey mapping exercises will be conducted in the maternity wards at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital and the participants’ homes or locations of their choice within and around Blantyre. For the multimarker panel component, the lab-based analyses will be conducted at Malawi-Liverpool Wellcome Trust or Kamuzu University of Health Sciences Laboratory in Blantyre, Malawi. The study will run from January 2023 to April 2024.

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