Prioritizing Congenital Syphilis Control in South China: A Decision Analytic Model to Inform Policy Implementation

Nicholas X. Tan, Chara Rydzak, Li Gang Yang, Peter Vickerman, Bin Yang, Rosanna W. Peeling, Sarah Hawkes, Xiang Sheng Chen, Joseph D. Tucker

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Abstract

Background: Syphilis is a major public health problem in many regions of China, with increases in congenital syphilis (CS) cases causing concern. The Chinese Ministry of Health recently announced a comprehensive 10-y national syphilis control plan focusing on averting CS. The decision analytic model presented here quantifies the impact of the planned strategies to determine whether they are likely to meet the goals laid out in the control plan. Methods and Findings: Our model incorporated data on age-stratified fertility, female adult syphilis cases, and empirical syphilis transmission rates to estimate the number of CS cases associated with prenatal syphilis infection on a yearly basis. Guangdong Province was the focus of this analysis because of the availability of high-quality demographic and public health data. Each model outcome was simulated 1,000 times to incorporate uncertainty in model inputs. The model was validated using data from a CS intervention program among 477,656 women in China. Sensitivity analyses were performed to identify which variables are likely to be most influential in achieving Chinese and international policy goals. Increasing prenatal screening coverage was the single most effective strategy for reducing CS cases. An incremental increase in prenatal screening from the base case of 57% coverage to 95% coverage was associated with 106 (95% CI: 101, 111) CS cases averted per 100,000 live births (58% decrease). The policy strategies laid out in the national plan led to an outcome that fell short of the target, while a four-pronged comprehensive syphilis control strategy consisting of increased prenatal screening coverage, increased treatment completion, earlier prenatal screening, and improved syphilis test characteristics was associated with 157 (95% CI: 154, 160) CS cases averted per 100,000 live births (85% decrease). Conclusions: The Chinese national plan provides a strong foundation for syphilis control, but more comprehensive measures that include earlier and more extensive screening are necessary for reaching policy goals. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1001375
JournalPLoS Medicine
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2013
Externally publishedYes

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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