Reaching beyond pregnant women to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of syphilis in Africa

Document Type



Obstetrics and Gynaecology (East Africa); Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health


Congenital syphilis is a devastating disease that can be prevented by screening and treatment of infected pregnant women. The WHO is leading a global initiative to eliminate mother-to-child-transmission of syphilis with a goal of ≤50 congenital syphilis cases per 100,000 live births and targets of 95% antenatal care, 95% syphilis testing, and 95% treatment coverage. We estimated current congenital syphilis rates for 43 African countries, and additional scenarios in a subset of 9 countries. Our analysis suggested that only 4 of 43 countries are likely to currently have a congenital syphilis rate ≤50 per 100,000 live births, and none of the 9 countries could reach this goal even in 5 different scenarios with improved services. To achieve the eliminate mother-to-child-transmission goal, it appears necessary to intervene beyond services for pregnant women, and decrease prevalence of syphilis in the general population as well.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Expert Review of Anti-infective Therapy