Congenital syphilis is the second cause of stillbirths around the world, malaria being the first. This infection is an incredibly common STIs that has resulted in more than 200,000 stillbirths across the globe. Plus, there are 6 million new reported cases of infected every single year.
In order to eliminate this infection on a global scale, the WHO has made it their mission to give access to adequate syphilis treatment and testing for any pregnant woman. The idea is to boost the overall health and improve the survival rate of children born in developing countries.
However, these countries, particularly in the sub-Saharan African region, have long been struggling to deal with the infection. It seems that they have yet to fulfill their goal of dealing with congenital syphilis.
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The Importance of Early Syphilis Diagnostics for Pregnant Women
With the current advances in science and technology, there are adequate medications that can help treat this infection. Plus, it is easily preventable, so people can take precautions to avoid this infection altogether.
For pregnant women, however, the timing has to be impeccable. These women need to seek syphilis screenings early in the pregnancy to receive benzathine penicillin G (BPG). The best time for this screening would be right before the second trimester.
Shortage of Benzathine Penicillin Puts a Strain on Syphilis Treatment
In many parts of the world, WHO has been successful in eliminating congenital syphilis in pregnant women. Twelve countries have managed to eliminate maternal syphilis completely. For developing countries, however, it’s a completely different story.
Read More: Syphilis Treatment
In these countries, there is one major issue, and that is the shortage of benzathine penicillin.
Based on an analysis carried out by multiple research programs for health, of the 95 countries evaluated, 49% had BPG shortages, while 59% stated they had adequate supplies for all their patients.
Due to BPG shortages, 10 of these countries stated relying on alternative and cheaper treatment.
They used ceftriaxone, erythromycin, and amoxicillin. The problem is that these treatments were not nearly as effective as BPG for maternal syphilis. In other words, women who received these treatments could still pass their infection onto the fetus.
The Need for Immediate Action Is Now
According to WHO, 95% of all pregnant women who get prenatal care should be screened for congenital syphilis. Testing for syphilis is of utmost importance for early and adequate syphilis treatment.
This should be the main concern for prenatal care for all countries. If a woman is diagnosed with this infection, she needs to get proper BPG treatment to make sure the infection is no longer in her system.
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Monitoring Health Is the Key to Eliminating Congenital Syphilis
Once a woman has been treated for syphilis, especially when pregnant, her health must be monitored closely to make sure the infection doesn’t reappear or progress. This helps detect the infection early on and receive treatment to avoid any potential complications.
Congenital syphilis can be easily managed
Congenital syphilis can be easily managed and treated. But, without an on-time diagnosis, a pregnant woman can pass this infection onto her child and cause premature death, low infant weight, defects, and can cause deformities. As a result, syphilis screening and treatment should be a top priority for all developing countries.