Elimination of Congenital Syphilis
Approximately 600 000 pregnant women are newly infected with syphilis each year in Asia and the Pacific. Of these women, an estimated 69% will experience adverse outcomes of pregnancy, including early fetal loss, stillbirth, neonatal death, low-birth-weight infants, and infants with clinical evidence of infection. Congenital syphilis results from an infection passed from mother to child during fetal development or birth which affect the skin, bone, liver, spleen, lungs and others.
Detecting, treating and eliminating congenital syphilis is relatively simple and inexpensive. Screening all pregnant women for syphilis using simple and low-cost technologies is feasible even in low-resource settings. Syphilis is easily cured with penicillin, and congenital syphilis is easily prevented when pregnant mothers with syphilis infection are identified early and promptly treated. Penicillin is off-patent, widely available, on the WHO List of Essential Medicines and, above all, cheap. Investing in screening and treatment for syphilis in pregnant women will significantly reduce the burden of disability adjust life years (DALYs) among newborn infants.