Neonatal Sepsis Task Force
Neonatal Sepsis Task Force

Neonatal Sepsis Task Force


The neonatal sepsis task force is co-chaired by Professors Angela Dramowski and Nelesh Govender. This is a partnership between FIDSSA and the United South African Neonatal Association ( The task force was launched in 2019 at USANA and FIDSSA conferences. Task force members are invited from the membership of FIDSSA and USANA.

2020 activities

Recently completed, ongoing or planned studies of neonatal infections in South Africa
  • Baby GERMS (PI: NP Govender):
  • NeoOBS: and
  • Inspire (PI: S. Velaphi): This was a multi-year quality improvement programme focused on infection control, antimicrobial stewardship and capacity building at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital neonatal unit
  • Modelling the mortality impact of optimised treatment regimens for antimicrobial-resistant neonatal bloodstream infections in African countries (PI: A Dramowski): This study will aggregate and analyse de-identified laboratory data from neonatal bloodstream infection episodes in South Africa and other African countries to develop data-driven recommendations for empiric antibiotic regimens. The investigators will also model the potential mortality impact of improved antibiotic-pathogen concordance (“bug-drug” matches).
  • NeoCHG: Efficacy and safety of whole-body chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) cleansing in reducing bacterial skin colonisation of hospitalised neonates: A pilot trial: Neonatal sepsis is a leading cause of neonatal mortality especially in low and middle income settings. The majority of infections managed in neonatal units in LMIC are healthcare associated due to transfer of pathogenic bacteria in hospital environments. New infection prevention strategies for hospitalised neonates are urgently needed to achieve global neonatal mortality reductions. Antiseptics such has chlorhexidine (CHG), reduce the bacterial load on the skin and may reduce the risk of neonatal sepsis and thereby reduce neonatal mortality. In addition, skin emollients may act as a barrier to bacterial invasion. The aim of this pilot trial is to determine the change in skin bacterial load for different concentrations of CHG with or without the application of emollient. This study is currently being conducted at Tygerberg Hospital-Stellenbosch University, South Africa and Dhaka Shishu Hospital in Bangladesh, and trial results are anticipated in 2022.
  • NeoIPC: Establishing innovative approaches for optimal infection prevention of resistant bacteria in NICUs: While care in a neonatal unit results in a greater chance of survival in preterm and sick newborns, it also increases the risk of exposure to bacteria from the hospital environment. These can cause serious infections in babies, which are commonly resistant to antibiotics. Colonisation with resistant bacteria is a major problem for several reasons: the colonised babies are at higher risk of severe infection, but they are also a source of resistant bacteria being introduced to the hospital environment, which can potentially infect other babies in the unit. NeoIPC, a Horizon 2020 funded project, will identify best practices for infection prevention and surveillance of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in neonatal units. Stellenbosch University is the only LMIC partner on this EU funded project, and will contribute to the development of tools for infection surveillance in neonatal units.
  • The South African Pharmacist Antimicrobial Stewardship Study Alliance has invited the Task Force to be involved in a pharmacist-led AMS project in neonatal units.