Ministry of Health launches new plan to combat rising levels of syphilis

The Ministry of Health has released its new action plan to tackle syphilis as cases of the sexually-transmitted disease continue to rise.

New Zealand had 543 cases of syphilis in 2018, compared to 480 cases in 2017 and 322 in 2016. In 2013, there were just 82.

Syphilis can be treated and cured with antibiotics, provided that the disease is caught early enough.

Released today, a nine-point plan has been introduced, aiming to curb the rising rates of syphilis.

These include raising awareness through social media and educational campaigns in schools, developing new educational resources for midwives and the ministry working with local communities to increase awareness.

"We're very concerned at the growth in numbers, particularly around the rise of congenital syphilis, when infection is spread from mother to baby during pregnancy," said Dr Niki Stefanogiannis, the ministry's deputy director of public health.

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The STI can be fatal to babies, who can pick up the infection while still in the womb. Source: 1 NEWS

"Congenital syphilis doesn't belong in New Zealand. The numbers are too high, and it's really important we do as much as we can now.

"These figures show how important it is that we improve equities and access to healthcare for all New Zealanders.

"By increasing everyone's knowledge and awareness of syphilis and promoting condom use and STI testing, we will improve our prevention and ultimately turn these numbers around."

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Last year, there were 543 cases in New Zealand, compared to just 82 in 2013. Source: 1 NEWS

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