In Haiti, traditional beliefs lead mothers to believe newborns are killed by werewolves, but congenital syphilis is a common cause of prenatal death. Dr. Hensley Olibruce explains that Haiti is the poorest in the western hemisphere.
Approximately 4% of women in Port-Au-Prince have congenital syphilis. If expecting mothers have a dose of penicillin, they can prevent their babies from contracting the disease.
Rates of infection in the developing world are 100 times higher than in the United States. Half the women who test positive never get treated. The World Health Organization is increasing the access of treatment for Haitian mothers.
Traditional doctors are educated to recognize signs of congenital syphilis so they can direct pregnant women to proper treatments. The doctors have been receptive and cooperative; women can now be treated for syphilis for less than a dollar.
Credits: Fighting Syphilis
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Syphilis was thought to have been beaten by mass penicillin treatment in the 1950s and 1960s. Now it’s back, particularly among the rural populations of places like Haiti—which medical experts believe is where the disease started in the first place. The theory goes that Christopher Columbus’ crew brought the disease back to Europe. Now, special mobile testing units are being used to tackle the disease, and with great success.
Length: 22 minutes
Copyright date: ©2008
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