Introduction Since 2015, Brazil has had a worrying epidemic of syphilis. From 2014 to 2015 there was a growth of 21% of congenital syphilis, reaching 19 228 cases in 2015. The reduction of mother-to-child transmission in 2017 is a priority goal of the government. Increasing access to diagnosis through rapid testing (RT) is one of the key strategies established to achieve this goal. Only in 2016, more than 6 million RT were distributed by the Ministry of Health (MoH) to healthcare facilities in the country. In addition, it is also necessary to increase the number of healthcare professionals capable to perform the RT. Considering the continental dimension of the country and the need for an alternative to on-site trainings, MoH offers a free distance learning course called TELELAB. We present the extent of the coverage of this education strategy.
Methods TELELAB provides online courses about diagnostic of sexually transmitted infection with video lessons and instruction manuals. After the course is completed, professionals are awarded a certificate once they pass an exam with 70% or higher. We analysed TELELAB´s database regarding the number of healthcare professionals who obtained certification in “Syphilis diagnose course” during 2016, their professions and city of residence.
Results In 2016, 7064 healthcare professionals were certified. Nursing is the profession with the highest number of certification (i.e. 72% of the total). 842 different municipalities were observed. Out of this, 4811 healthcare professionals (i.e. 68% of the total) reside out of capital, and many of them in remote and rural areas with no access to laboratory services.
Conclusion TELELAB is an important strategy to ensure greater access to syphilis diagnosis, since it better qualifies healthcare professionals, especially nurses, that are present in major basic care services and usually diagnoses and treat the patient. Considering that Brazil has 5561 municipalities, there is still need to widespread this modality of distance learning course and incentive for higher adherence.