Maldives certified for Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission (EMTCT) of HIV and Syphilis
15th July 2019: Another Public Health Milestone for Maldives as WHO Regional Director Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh awarded the certificate of “Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV and Syphilis to Vice President of the Maldives His Excellency Faisal Naseem. An official plaque and citation was handed over in an official ceremony held in Male to mark this momentous occasion in presence of Hon Health Minster HE Abdulla Ameen, other Cabinet Ministers, members of National Validation Committee for EMTCT, senior officials from different ministries, academia, civil society organizations, UN and international organizations.
By eliminating mother to child HIV and Syphilis, Maldives once again leads with its exemplary record in controlling and eliminating diseases in South East Asia. The country has already conquered Small Pox, Polio, Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus, Leprosy and in the recent years, Malaria, Filaria, Measles and Rubella.
Regional Director for WHO South East Asia Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh awarded the plaque and citation to Vice President of the Maldives His Excellency Faisal Naseem during the ceremony. In the citation, Maldives was commended for public health achievements that have been possible with effective deployment of evidence- based strategies.
“I am pleased to note that WHO has been a steadfast ally in your quest. I commend the efforts of my Country Office team for the technical and operational support through this arduous journey and for their commitment to working with partners at all levels, from the Ministry of Health, National Validation Team down to local NGOs.” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh. “Against the backdrop of Maldives’ significant historical achievements and its ongoing quest to strengthen the country’s health system, it is my great pleasure, ladies and gentlemen, to certify the Maldives to have achieved Dual Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV and Syphilis.”
The island nation initiated it’s public health measures against HIV long before the first case of HIV infection was diagnosed in the year 1991 as it formally launched its AIDS Control Program in 1987 with strong technical assistance from WHO and support from other partners such as UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA and the Global Fund.
A unique feature of the Maldives AIDS program has been a total integration of all health services including preventive services into the general health system as all health facilities at all level continue to offer ranges of services critical to the prevention and control of HIV and Syphilis.
This remarkable achievement would not have been possible without the demonstration of strong political commitment by the Government of Maldives, active Community engagement and steady, methodical and rigorous implementation of evidence based and scientifically sound strategies.
Speaking at the ceremony, His Excellency Faisal Naseem Vice President of the Maldives thanked his fellow colleagues, partners, predecessors, front line workers and the community to whom the country owes this major achievement to. He thanked WHO for the support that has been provided over the years and called for continuous efforts by everyone to sustain this achievement.
Around the world, Mother to Child Transmission of HIV account for 9% of new infections and Congenital Syphilis is the second leading cause of preventable still births. While achieving validation of EMTCT is a tremendous accomplishment, maintaining this status is equally important and requires sustained, broad program efforts to prevent new infections in infants, children and adults, which the Maldives has in place. The revised National Strategic Plan for the Prevention and Control of HIV guides efforts to maintain low prevalence and outlined its target for Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV and Syphilis as an important public health milestone reflecting effective and equitable national policies and services that place people first.
WHO is privileged to rejoice this success alongside Ministry of Health, as a trusted and collaborative partner to the Government of Maldives for over five decades.