Cuba becomes the first country to successfully end HIV and syphilis transmitted from mothers to their children. The developing country is the first in the world to be certified by the World Health Organization (WHO), New York Times reports.
WHO's director general, Margaret Chan, hailed Cuba's success as "one of the greatest public health achievements possible," a significant milestone towards an Aids-free generation, the Guardian reports.
Carissa Etienne, Pan American Health Organization director, which collaborated with WHO on the campaign, hailed the country because it serves as an "inspiration for other countries to advance towards elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis."
In a press release, Stephen Lee, vice president of program implementation and country management at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) considered the WHO's validation process very important "in tracking and understanding progress in the fight to end the AIDS epidemic, particularly as many more countries, including those in sub-Saharan Africa where the pediatric HIV/AIDS burden is the highest, are poised to undergo the eMTCT (elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV) validation in the near future."
Cuba is a relatively poor country, but that did not stop the developing nation from providing basic universal health care. A proof of its success on its campaign against HIV is the suppression of HIV epidemic, which plagued the country in the 1980s. Health officials initially enforced mandatory quarantine for HIV-infected Cubans and later on instituted extensive diagnoses and treatment.
As late as 2013, there were only five Cuban babies were born with HIV or syphilis.
Aside from Cuba, nearly two dozen countries have also requested the WHO certifications. Bulgaria, Moldova, Turkmenistan and Thailand are already lined up for evaluation.
The relentless fight against HIV is already bearing fruits, as WHO records can tell that the statistics of babies born with HIV has dropped to almost fifty percent since 2009, to 240,000 in 2013.