Pandemic Adds Fuel To Fire In Rise Of Syphilis Cases In Saskatchewan

The Medical Health Officer for Indigenous Services Canada in Saskatchewan says the pandemic has made the trend of rising syphilis cases in this province even worse. Dr. Ibrahim Khan says lack of access to screening, testing, and outreach programs are a major reason.

Specifically for First Nations communities, between January and September of this year, there were 355 cases of syphilis, which is a 344 per cent increase. He adds that one syphilis-related stillbirth or one baby born with syphilis would be a public health emergency, but during this same time period there were seven syphilis-related stillbirths and 13 early congenital syphilis cases. Addiction is a risk factor, and services for addiction and mental health are limited.

Dr. Khan explains that the early lockdown and then the restrictions impacted outreach programs. Nurses used to be able to conduct screening clinics in communities. Some communities have opened for appointments, but Khan says there is still a long way to go to get this under control.


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