Sexually transmitted diseases research leads to policy changes in Nanjing
Nanjing hosts the National Center for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STI) Control and National Center for Leprosy Control, managed within the China Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This group of clinical care and research centres began translating and using WHO documents, training courses and workshops in 1988. The institute went on to become a WHO Collaborating Centre on STI Prevention and Control in July, 2001, and since 2002, has been 1 of 8 TDR study sites for the international network of clinical and laboratory-based evaluations of sexually transmitted infection tests.
Using TDR guidance to monitor and reduce syphilis
Monitoring and controlling syphilis outbreaks requires very sensitive diagnostic tools, so the country decided to invest in identifying the appropriate tools for this. Using TDR guidance, their work led to the use of 3 approved rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) and the development of recommendations for how to use these tests in national policy. As a result, at risk pregnant women now get tested and treated immediately, and all couples planning to get married are provided with free syphilis screening with these tests.
"This is huge," said Xiang-Sheng Chen, MD, PhD, Vice Director of the National Center for STD Control. "We used this exercise to expand the capacity to detection in the township and rural areas." Dr Chen told TDR board members during a recent site visit that this support had made critical improvements in three areas:
- Establishing research evidence: identifying what works scientifically
- Publishing papers: disseminating the evidence to the research community
- Developing policy: integrating the evidence into improved policies and practices
Today, the group is using the expanded research and advocacy capacity to look at other issues, and to also provide training and guidance to colleagues in China and other countries. They have strengthened multi-sectoral cooperation, created working mechanisms between public health and medical care facilities, and have expanded interventions beyond the highest risk groups.
"We have benefited a lot from our cooperation with TDR and WHO," said Dr Chen. "We look forward to having more and deeper cooperation with TDR, WHO, the World Bank and other international organizations to facilitate the prevention and control of STIs including HIV in China."