Syphilis ‘should never happen in a developed nation’

Extract from report by: Meredith Griffiths, ABC National Reporting Team          Source: ABC News online

Associate Professor James Ward from the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute says that cases of syphilis increased by about 200 per cent among young heterosexual Indigenous people living in remote areas of Queensland, the NT, the north-west of WA and SA over the past five years.

He said that it all started from one outbreak in 2011.

“There was a lack of a rapid response to that outbreak,” he said. “The response was delayed even further because at the time public health services in remote and regional Queensland were being dismantled by the government in Queensland at the time, the Campbell Newman government.”

He said health departments were trying to keep track of the disease, that a major awareness campaign was underway, and clinicians were being urged to test people — but there was a long way to go.

“The really big problem with infectious syphilis is that since this outbreak began in 2011 there’ve been five babies lost to congenital syphilis and that should never happen in a developed nation like Australia,” Dr Ward said.

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