Sexual and reproductive health

Elimination of congenital syphilis


African region

Studying Congenital Syphilis in Mozambique

Finger stick testing for syphilis in Mozambique
Finger stick testing for syphilis in Primero de Maio Health Center in Chimoio, Mozambique

The Mozambique National Health Institute (INS), Health Alliance International (HAI), and WHO are jointly conducting a study in central Mozambique to quantify the burden of congenital syphilis, evaluate the effectiveness of syphilis treatment administered at different times during pregnancy, and characterize women not screened for syphilis in pregnancy. As of September 2012, over 10 000 women have been enrolled in the study. Data from the study will be useful for the following:

  • for Mozambique to understand the magnitude of the problem;
  • for strengthening efforts to reduce the burden of congenital syphilis;
  • for better understanding the impact of timing of treatment in pregnancy.

Strategic framework for the elimination of new HIV infections among children in Africa by 2015

With the vision of a generation alive and free of HIV and syphilis, this framework outlines the aim, objectives, targets and priority actions for eliminating new HIV and syphilis infections in children in the African Region by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive.

Moving towards elimination

June 2011 - three-day workshop with six countries in the United Republic of Tanzania
The objective was to develop national action plans to strengthen efforts to eliminate vertical transmission of syphilis and HIV. WHO will follow-up with Central African Republic, Ghana, Madagascar, Mozambique, United Republic of Tanzania, and Zambia to finalize the action plans, provide technical support for implementation, and continue to advocate for increased engagement of partner organizations in these countries. (Organized by the WHO African Regional Office and Headquarters, with CDC* and LSHTM* support).

Region of the Americas

Image of a logo

A generation free of HIV and syphilis

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and UNICEF regional initiative to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis was officially endorsed by countries at the 50th PAHO Directing Council in September 2010. PAHO has released the first regional report on the initiative in 2011, and is developing a process for certification of elimination. A regional partners meeting was held in Panama in May 2011, and an Andean subregional meeting in Peru was held in October 2011. A variety of tools to assist countries are available online:

South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions

Regional framework for elimination of paediatric HIV and congenital syphilis

Elimination of New Paediatric Infections and Congenital Syphilis in Asia-Pacific An Advocacy Toolkit - May 2013

In August 2011, the Asia Pacific United Nations Prevention of Parents-to-Child Transmission (PPTC) Task Force, consisting of regional representative from WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, and UNAIDS, launched the Conceptual Framework for the Elimination of New Paediatric HIV Infections and Congenital Syphilis in the Asia Pacific 2011-2015. The vision for the framework is women and children alive and free from HIV and syphilis. In addition to the Conceptual Framework, the task force has also developed a monitoring and evaluation guide, fact sheets for 12 countries, and a costing tool.

South-East Asia region

The WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia (SEARO) launched the regional strategy for elimination of congenital syphilis in November 2009. In July 2011, representatives from 6 SEARO countries met in Colombo, Sri Lanka, for an expert meeting on the regional strategy, monitoring and evaluation, and next steps to move to elimination.


Two antenatal care nurses providing syphilis screening in Mongolia
Two antenatal care nurses providing syphilis screening in Mongolia

Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia: in November 2010, the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific (WPRO) held a mid-term review of the Regional Strategic Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Sexually Transmitted Infections 2008-2012. In this meeting congenital syphilis elimination was identified as being one of three top priority areas.

European region

In order to accelerate the elimination of congenital syphilis in Europe, WHO Regional Office for Europe in collaboration with WHO headquarters and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is conducting a regional survey to:

  • Review current national policies, program activities, and data related to diagnosis and treatment of congenital syphilis;
  • Draft a regional approach for elimination of congenital syphilis in Europe, including a process for certification of elimination. Survey finding will be used by WHO Europe to develop a regional approach that reflects the current epidemiology and needs of countries in the WHO European Region.

*LSHTM: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
*CDC: The U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention

The use of rapid syphilis tests

This useful manual provides a general overview on the use of rapid syphilis tests, their purchase, transport and storage.