On Tuesday The World Health Organization declared Cuba’s success in stopping HIV and syphilis spread from mother to baby.
Cuba has become the first country in the world to eliminate the transmission of HIV and syphilis from mother to child.
HIV can be transferred from mother to child in pregnancy, labour, delivery or breastfeeding. In the absence of any interventions transmission rates range from 15-45%, WHO reports.
Each year, around the world, 1.4 million women who are HIV positive become pregnant and have a chance of 15-45% chance of transferring the disease to their infant. If proper care and treatment is provided that percentage risk can be dropped to 1%.
Almost 1 million pregnant women in the world become infected with syphilis yearly; this means there can be a risk of early fetal loss, still birth, neonatal death, low birth weight and serious infections. Simple cost effective medicine can be provided to treat this and reduce the risk factor.
WHO and the Pan American Health Organization sent an international delegation to Cuba to assess the country and whether it met the criteria for the designation.
A statement released by them states that in 2013 only two children in Cuba were born with HIV and only five born with syphilis.
PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said in the statement “Cuba’s success demonstrates that universal access and universal health coverage are feasible and indeed are the key to success, even against challenges as daunting as HIV.”
Although the citizens of Cuba complain of the decrease in standard of health care since the fall off the Soviet Union in 1991, Cuba’s Communist Government believes that free healthcare has been a major step forward for the country since the 1959 revolution.
Cuba was praised for being the most effective country in terms of offering women early access to prenatal care, HIV and syphilis. Also offering immediate healthcare to women who tested positive.
The WHO and PAHO began an effort in 2010 to end congenital transmissions of HIV and syphilis in countries in America.