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HIV: more CARICOM countries eliminate mother-to-child transmission

  • May 10, 2024
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Belize, Jamaica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are the latest countries in the Americas to receive World Health Organization (WHO) certification for the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis (EMTCT).

The milestone was marked this week at a commemorative event hosted by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in Kingston, Jamaica, with the support of UNICEF and UNAIDS and with the participation of ministers of Health of the three countries.

“This achievement demonstrates years of dedication, hard work and collaboration between governments, health professionals and communities,” PAHO Director Dr. Jarbas Barbosa said at the event.

Dr. Barbosa also recognized the “remarkable resilience” displayed by the three countries, ensuring adaptation and continuity of essential services despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. “I hope that today’s celebration will inspire other countries to reinvigorate their commitments” to a generation free of HIV and congenital syphilis.

In 2010, countries in the Americas committed to eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis and approved the regional strategy, which was updated in 2016 as part of the PAHO Action Plan for the prevention and control of HIV and sexually transmitted infections. .

To achieve elimination targets, countries have focused on strengthening prevention and treatment services within primary health care and maternal and child health, updating guidelines, ensuring effective screening of pregnant women, monitoring cases and tracking infants exposed to HIV and syphilis.

In a video message, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus commended Belize for integrating primary disease prevention and treatment into maternal and child health services. He also commended Jamaica for the commitment of its civil society organizations to human rights and commended Saint Vincent and the Grenadines for investing in strong national laboratory structures.

“While the validation is a tremendous achievement, maintaining it requires sustained efforts to prevent new infections,” he said. “WHO and its partners will continue to support all countries in the Americas to strengthen their health systems, provide comprehensive services and ensure the participation of women in planning and delivery of services.”

Globally, 19 countries and territories have now been certified to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and/or syphilis, 11 of which are located in the Americas.

In 2015, Cuba made history by becoming the first country in the world to achieve the dual elimination of HIV and syphilis.

This is followed by Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat and Saint Kitts and Nevis in 2017, and Dominica in 2020.

New HIV infections among Caribbean children declined by 25 percent between 2010 and 2022. During this period, reported annual cases declined from 2,000 to 1,500.

Reported cases of congenital syphilis in the English-speaking Caribbean now stand at 36 cases per 100,000 newborns, below the target of no more than 50 cases per 100,000 newborns.

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Loop News