Back to search

Assessing the Global Distribution and Surveillance of Yaws


Background: Yaws is a Neglected Tropical Disease spread by skin-to-skin contact. Left untreated, yaws can lead to lifelong pain and disfigurement. Yaws is readily treatable with antibiotics, leading to global efforts to eradicate the disease in the 1950s and 1960s. However, those efforts were not completed, and as time has passed the global distribution and prevalence of yaws is unknown.

Objective: The aim of this systematic literature review is to assess the current standing of yaws surveillance systems to identify gaps in understanding of yaws prevalence in countries with histories of yaws. It will also identify published literature that presents evidence of yaws transmission in countries lacking in surveillance data.

Methods: WHO data was reviewed to establish the current understanding of yaws prevalence and surveillance. Then, following the identification of a previous systematic literature review, keywords were searched in PubMed pertaining to yaws. Finally, regional WHO offices, including reports and programming, were searched for additional information.

Results: A total of 39 articles which fulfilled inclusion criteria were reviewed. In some instances, published journal articles match official WHO data, suggesting that there may be no governmental surveillance for yaws happening in those countries. Additionally, official data was found to be contradictory with official data and reports presenting different information and data. Recommendations on how to prioritize and operationalize yaws eradication programming are available to address the gaps in data and understanding identified in this essay.

More information