Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Cent Afr J Med. 1998 Sep;44(9):229-32.

Syphilis in Murewa District, Zimbabwe: an old problem that rages on.

Author information

  • 1UNICEF, Belgravia, Harare, Zimbabwe.



To determine the prevalence of syphilis among pregnant women and women giving birth in health centres in a rural district and to identify problems associate with syphilis control in the same district.


Cross sectional descriptive study.


Murewa District health facilities.


Women attending health facilities in this district for antenatal care or delivery between February and May 1993.


Syphilis sero-prevalence rate. Factors associated with poor syphilis control.


Even though it is recommended that all women attending clinics for antenatal care (ANC) should be screened for syphilis at first visit only 308 (20%) out of 1,556 first visit attenders were screened during the study period. Three hundred and sixty six (33%) out of 1,096 women giving birth in health institutions were screened. The RPR/TPHA sero positivity rate for antenatal women was 9.2% while that for women delivering was 9.8%. A positive RPR was not significantly associated with the women's age, parity, infant's birth weight, sex or pregnancy outcome. Factors associated with poor syphilis control in this district included: lack of motivation and appreciation of the seriousness of syphilis in pregnancy; lack of transport to send specimens and receive results from Murewa District Hospital; poor record keeping; loss to follow up of women being tested or after starting treatment; lack of contact tracing and treatment of contacts and difficulties in implementing the 10 day neonatal regime and follow up of these infants.


Syphilis remains poorly controlled in Murewa district and may be contributing significantly to high perinatal mortality rates. There is need to strengthen the syphilis control programme through motivation and training of health workers, decentralisation of testing and treatment of the condition and improved contact tracing. A repeat RPR test at delivery may not be cost effective.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk