Background: Congenital syphilis is a global health problem, yet it has received little attention in recent years. Despite cost-effective syphilis screening and treatment, it continues to contribute hugely to perinatal morbidity and mortality worldwide.
Aims: To determine the prevalence and treatment coverage trend for syphilis among pregnant women in the national prevention of mother-to-child transmission programme in Nigeria and to evaluate progress towards the elimination of congenital syphilis in the country.
Methods: A retrospective analysis of validated national health sector performance data on pregnant women attending antenatal care at prevention of mother-to-child transmission clinics from 2013 to 2016 in Nigeria.
Results: The proportion of new antenatal care attendees who annually received serological testing for syphilis increased from 12.2% in 2013 to 16.3% in 2016 (p-trend<0.0001). Although the prevalence of maternal syphilis decreased from 3.2% in 2013 to 1.4% in 2016 (p-trend<0.0001), the syphilis treatment coverage during pregnancy has decreased from 71.3% in 2013 to 54.9% in 2016 (p-trend<0.0001).
Conclusions: Maternal syphilis screening and treatment in Nigeria are inadequate to meet the elimination aspirations. A rapid scale-up of antenatal care syphilis screening and treatment are crucial to averting an epidemic in Nigeria by 2020.
Keywords: Congenital syphilis; antenatal care; elimination of syphilis; mother-to-child transmission; pregnancy; syphilis screening; syphilis treatment.