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      Rapid-Testing Technology and Systems Improvement for the Elimination of Congenital Syphilis in Haiti: Overcoming the “Technology to Systems Gap”


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          Background. Despite the availability of rapid diagnostic tests and inexpensive treatment for pregnant women, maternal-child syphilis transmission remains a leading cause of perinatal morbidity and mortality in developing countries. In Haiti, more than 3000 babies are born with congenital syphilis annually. Methods and Findings. From 2007 to 2011, we used a sequential time series, multi-intervention study design in fourteen clinics throughout Haiti to improve syphilis testing and treatment in pregnancy. The two primary interventions were the introduction of a rapid point-of-care syphilis test and systems strengthening based on quality improvement (QI) methods. Syphilis testing increased from 91.5% prediagnostic test to 95.9% after ( P < 0.001) and further increased to 96.8% ( P < 0.001) after the QI intervention. Despite high rates of testing across all time periods, syphilis treatment lagged behind and only increased from 70.3% to 74.7% after the introduction of rapid tests ( P = 0.27), but it improved significantly from 70.2% to 84.3% ( P < 0.001) after the systems strengthening QI intervention. Conclusion. Both point-of-care diagnostic testing and health systems-based quality improvement interventions can improve the delivery of specific evidence-based healthcare interventions to prevent congenital syphilis at scale in Haiti. Improved treatment rates for syphilis were seen only after the use of systems-based quality improvement approaches.

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          Most cited references29

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          Effect of point-of-care CD4 cell count tests on retention of patients and rates of antiretroviral therapy initiation in primary health clinics: an observational cohort study.

          Loss to follow-up of HIV-positive patients before initiation of antiretroviral therapy can exceed 50% in low-income settings and is a challenge to the scale-up of treatment. We implemented point-of-care counting of CD4 cells in Mozambique and assessed the effect on loss to follow-up before immunological staging and treatment initiation. In this observational cohort study, data for enrolment into HIV management and initiation of antiretroviral therapy were extracted retrospectively from patients' records at four primary health clinics providing HIV treatment and point-of-care CD4 services. Loss to follow-up and the duration of each preparatory step before treatment initiation were measured and compared with baseline data from before the introduction of point-of-care CD4 testing. After the introduction of point-of-care CD4 the proportion of patients lost to follow-up before completion of CD4 staging dropped from 57% (278 of 492) to 21% (92 of 437) (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 0·2, 95% CI 0·15-0·27). Total loss to follow-up before initiation of antiretroviral treatment fell from 64% (314 of 492) to 33% (142 of 437) (OR 0·27, 95% CI 0·21-0·36) and the proportion of enrolled patients initiating antiretroviral therapy increased from 12% (57 of 492) to 22% (94 of 437) (OR 2·05, 95% CI 1·42-2·96). The median time from enrolment to antiretroviral therapy initiation reduced from 48 days to 20 days (p<0·0001), primarily because of a reduction in the median time taken to complete CD4 staging, which decreased from 32 days to 3 days (p<0·0001). Loss to follow-up between staging and antiretroviral therapy initiation did not change significantly (OR 0·84, 95% CI 0·49-1·45). Point-of-care CD4 testing enabled clinics to stage patients rapidly on-site after enrolment, which reduced opportunities for pretreatment loss to follow-up. As a result, more patients were identified as eligible for and initiated antiretroviral treatment. Point-of-care testing might therefore be an effective intervention to reduce pretreatment loss to follow-up. Absolute Return for Kids and UNITAID. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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            Syphilis in pregnancy in Tanzania. I. Impact of maternal syphilis on outcome of pregnancy.

            To measure the impact of maternal syphilis on pregnancy outcome in the Mwanza Region of Tanzania, 380 previously unscreened pregnant women were recruited into a retrospective cohort at delivery and tested for syphilis. Stillbirth was observed in 18 (25%) of 73 women with high-titer active syphilis (i.e., women with a rapid plasma reagin titer > or = 1 :8 and a positive Treponema pallidum hemagglutination assay or indirect fluorescent treponemal antibody test result), compared with 3 (1%) of 233 uninfected women (risk ratio [RR], 18.1; P<.001). Women with high-titer active syphilis were also at the greatest risk of having low-birth-weight or preterm live births (RR, 3.0 and 6.1, respectively), compared with women with other serological stages of syphilis. Among unscreened women, 51% of stillbirths, 24% of preterm live births, and 17% of all adverse pregnancy outcomes were attributable to maternal syphilis. Syphilis continues to be a major cause of pregnancy loss and adverse pregnancy outcome among women who do not receive antenatal syphilis screening and treatment.
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              Accelerating worldwide syphilis screening through rapid testing: a systematic review.

              Syphilis is a persistent public health issue in many low-income countries that have limited capacity for testing, which traditionally relies on a sensitive non-treponemal test and then a specific treponemal test. However, the development of a new rapid treponemal test provides an opportunity to scale up syphilis screening in many settings where traditional tests are unavailable. This systematic review of immunochromatographic strip (ICS) syphilis tests describes the sensitivity and specificity in two important clinical settings: sexually transmitted infection (STI) clinics and antenatal clinics. Clinical data from more than 22 000 whole blood, plasma, or fingerstick ICS tests obtained at STI or antenatal clinics were retrieved from 15 studies. ICS syphilis tests have a high sensitivity (median 0.86, interquartile range 0.75-0.94) and a higher specificity (0.99, 0.98-0.99), both comparable with non-treponemal screening test characteristics. Further research evaluating ICS syphilis tests among primary syphilis cases and among patients infected with HIV will be essential for the effective roll-out of syphilis screening programmes. 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

                Author and article information

                J Sex Transm Dis
                J Sex Transm Dis
                Journal of sexually transmitted diseases
                Hindawi Publishing Corporation
                22 December 2013
                : 2013
                : 247901
                1GHESKIO Centres, Port-Au-Prince, Haiti
                2Department of Public Health, Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York, NY, USA
                3Global Health Center, Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York, NY, USA
                4London School of Tropical Medicine, London, UK
                5Department of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical Center, 525 East 68th Street, P.O. Box 130, New York, NY 10065, USA
                6Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Cambridge, MA, USA
                Author notes
                *Kedar S. Mate: kmate@ 123456ihi.org

                Academic Editor: Consuelo Beck-Sagué

                Author information
                Copyright © 2013 Linda Severe et al.

                This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 7 August 2013
                : 3 November 2013
                Research Article


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