SL has eliminated mother-to-child HIV, Syphilis

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –Sri Lanka has been declared as a country which has eliminated mother to child transmission of HIV and Syphilis by the World Health Organization, a Health Ministry spokesman said.

The spokesman said in September 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) out of which goal 3 is on good health and well-being.

Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being at all ages is essential for sustainable development of a nation. Eradication of Polio, elimination of malaria and measles are major milestones which contributed to a marked reduction in neonatal, infant and child mortality rates in Sri Lanka.

According to the reported data by the National STD AIDS Control Programme, by the end of 2018, 85 children were infected with HIV due to mother to child transmission. Annually, a very few children are being newly diagnosed with Congenital Syphilis, he said.

HIV and syphilis testing coverage among pregnant women increased to over 95% by end 2017. All pregnant women with HIV or syphilis and babies exposed were managed by local teams including MOH, Venereologists, Obstetricians and Paediatricians. All pregnant women diagnosed with HIV infection received EMTCT services and had delivered uninfected children. By end 2018, the country had achieved the set targets to be eligible to request for validation of EMTCT of HIV and Syphilis status, he said.

In July 2019, the Health Ministry made a formal request to the WHO to validate the EMTCT of HIV and syphilis status in the country. This was followed by the visit of the regional validation team (RVT) of experts, representing WHO South-East Asian Regional Office in mid-September 2019to assess the elimination status. After a thorough assessment, the regional validation team presented its’ report on Sri Lanka to Global Validation Committee at WHO headquarters based in Geneva, he said.

The WHO headquarters, based on the decision of Global Validation Committee, has formally declared that Sri Lanka has eliminated mother to child transmission of HIV and syphilis, he said.

This achievement will have an inspiring impact on the resolve to end AIDS by 2025, five years ahead the global target in 2030, a commitment undertaken by the country.

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