Monday, August 02, 2010

Philippines to investigate possible syphillis among displaced Mindanao women

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Aug. 2, 2010) - Health experts in the Philippines will launch a six-month study to ascertain the presence of syphilis among displaced pregnant women in Mindanao, according to the United Nation's Integrated Regional Information Networks.

"This will conclude whether we are dealing with syphilis, yaws, or a combination of the two," Gerard Belimac, manager of the country's national AIDS/STI prevention and control programme, told IRIN.

The move follows a report by Médecins Sans Frontières Switzerland last year that 25.5 percent of women undergoing antenatal and post-natal care had tested positive for treponematosis, a group of non-venereal infections, as well as the bacterium Treponema pallidum, which causes syphilis.

The study will focus on priority areas of Maguindanao and North Cotabato provinces where high rates were reported. Participants - including 900 pregnant women and 200 of their husbands - will be provided with syphilis screening, counselling and treatment if necessary, Belimac said.

Scheduled to begin next month, the study is a joint effort of the Department of Health, the UN Population Fund, the World Health Organization and the UN Children's Fund.

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