The WHO global guidelines on prevention of surgical site infection are designed to address the increasing burden of health care-associated infections on both patients and health care systems globally.
Surgical site infections are caused by bacteria that get in through incisions made during surgery. They threaten the lives of millions of patients each year and contribute to the spread of antibiotic resistance. In low- and middle-income countries, 11% of patients who undergo surgery are infected in the process. In Africa, up to 20% of women who have a caesarean section contract a wound infection, compromising their own health and their ability to care for their babies. But surgical site infections are not just a problem for poor countries. In the United States, they contribute to patients spending more than 400 000 extra days in hospital at a cost of an additional US$ 10 billion per year.