Sexual and reproductive health

Eliminating congenital syphilis. A global health priority

World Health Organization, Department of Reproductive Health and Research

Front page of brochure

Publication details

Number of pages: 4
Publication date: 2005
Languages: English - Web only


Every year, at least half a million infants are born with congenital syphilis. In addition, maternal syphilis causes another half million stillbirths and miscarriages annually. Yet, with the development of reliable and simple tests the disease could be easily screened and treated at little cost by giving infected women a single dose of penicillin early in pregnancy. The time is ripe for a global effort to eliminate congenital syphilis.

The successful implementation of a programme to eliminate congenital syphilis as a public health problem would contribute to three of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals:

  • Goal 4: Reduce child mortality.
  • Goal 5: Improve maternal health.
  • Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.