Background: In 2011 the Brazilian Ministry of Health launched the "Rede Cegonha" (Stork Network) Program in order to improve the quality of antenatal, childbirth and postpartum health care for children up to 2 years of age. The national STD, AIDS and Viral Hepatitis Department is responsible for expanding access to rapid tests for syphilis screening to support the elimination of congenital syphilis by 2015.
Methods: we report program data on the distribution of rapid tests and training of health professionals, syphilis detection rate and incidence of congenital syphilis from surveillance data, one year after the launch of the “Rede Cegonha” Program.
Results: Between 2012 and 2013, the Ministry of Health distributed 1.311,766 rapid tests for syphilis to 5.488 municipalities (98.5 %) that joined the prenatal component of the “Rede Cegonha” Program and trained 1.123 health professionals responsible for the multiplication of testing in primary health care facilities. According to the National System of Disease Notification (SINAN) 16.930 cases of syphilis in pregnancy were reported in 2012 (63% increase compared with 2010, 10.338 cases). In the same year 11.316 cases of congenital syphilis were reported in children under 1 year with incidence rate of approximately 3.9 % (62,5% increase in incidence rate compared with 2010, 6.916 cases and incidence rate of 2,4).
Conclusions: Epidemiological data suggests that incorporating rapid tests for syphilis into the "Rede Cegonha" Program may offer an opportunity to expand the coverage of detection of syphilis during pregnancy. The Ministry of Health will strengthen and expand the implementation of this program to achieve the target of eliminating congenital syphilis by 2015.