Sexual and reproductive health

Elimination of congenital syphilis


Front cover

Investment case for eliminating mother-to-child transmission of syphilis: promoting better maternal and child health and stronger health systems

OCTOBER 2012 - WHO outlines the epidemiologic, economic, and health systems strengthening benefits of investing in elimination of mother-to-child transmission of syphilis. Twelve countries (Central African Republic, China, Ghana, Honduras, Indonesia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, and Zambia) have been nominated by WHO regional offices for intensified support to scale-up national efforts and strengthen underlying maternal and child health systems.

Criteria and processes for validation of elimination of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV and syphilis, 6–8 June 2012

The consultation aimed to reach a consensus on global criteria and processes to validate elimination, and identify next steps to finalize and establish a validation process. Experiences from country pilots in Botswana, Cambodia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Moldova, Saint Lucia and South Africa were discussed. (UNFPA, UNAIDS, UNICEF and WHO cosponsored the consultation and the country pilots).

Global Congenital Syphilis Partnership

Partners include: the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Save the Children, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

LONDON, MARCH 2012 - The Partnership has been launched to champion and invest in the fight against congenital syphilis. WHO looks forward to collaborating with this new Partnership to raise awareness of the need to eliminate congenital syphilis, provide training and technical support for increasing capacity to diagnose syphilis in countries, and identify opportunities to integrate congenital syphilis elimination efforts within HIV and maternal and child health activities. Through this partnership, a toolkit has been developed to assist with introduction of rapid syphilis tests in countries.

Global data on syphilis in pregnancy

DECEMBER 2011 - Data from 63 countries on antenatal care syphilis testing coverage and 75 countries on the prevalence of syphilis among antenatal care attendees is published in the 2011 progress report: Global HIV/AIDS response: epidemic update and health sector progress towards universal access: progress report 2011 .

Congenital Syphilis highlighted at ISSTDR in Quebec City, Canada

JULY 2011 - Congenital syphilis was highlighted in a variety of oral and poster sessions at the 19th International Society of Sexually Transmitted Disease Research (ISSTDR) conference.

Congenital syphilis identified as a "Winnable Battle"

OCTOBER 2011 - The U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified reduction of mother-to-child HIV transmission and congenital syphilis as one of five major public health goals for which major progress can be made with sustained, coordinated effort. These "winnable battles" will be a special focus for CDC as it implements its broad global health portfolio.


Congenital syphilis is the second most common cause of stillbirth.