In another medical breakthrough, Cuba became the first country in the world to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV as well as congenital syphilis.
This important achievement was announced June 30 by the World Health Organization and Cuba’s Ministry of Public Health.
The WHO’s director-general, Dr. Margaret Chan, said, “Eliminating transmission of a virus is one of the greatest public health achievements possible. This is a major victory in our long fight against HIV and sexually transmitted infections, and an important step towards having an AIDS-free generation.”
A country is considered free of mother-to-child HIV transmission when less than 2 percent of children born to mothers with HIV contract the disease.
In Cuba since 2012, there have been one to two cases of such transmission per year, for a frequency of 1.8 percent, thus surpassing the goal.
Without preventive medical treatment, the incidence of transmission of HIV to a newborn can reach 15 to 50 percent.
The UN and other international health organizations have set a worldwide goal of 2015 to eliminate mother-to-child HIV and sexually-transmitted diseases.
The remarkable elimination of mother-to-child HIV transmission in Cuba is possible because of Cuba’s universal, free and quality health care system and its highly regarded prenatal programs. Cuba coordinated with the UN health agencies to meet the United Nations’ goal.
Cuba’s comprehensive intervention for pregnant women with HIV includes closely monitored prenatal care, anti-retroviral treatment and post-natal follow-up. Pre- and post-natal care is a guaranteed right for all Cuban women and their babies. And once born, a baby and parent have the right to one year of paid maternal/paternal care.
On Monday, the same day of Cuba’s latest achievement, WHO’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., held a panel called “To Be Born Without HIV: How Cuba Became the First Country in the World to Eliminate Mother-to-Child HIV and Syphilis Transmission.”
Cuba’s public health minister, Roberto Morales Ojeda, said in Washington, “This validation is a major recognition of the Cuban national health system, as well as a stimulus and commitment for us to continue perfecting our work for the wellbeing of mothers, children and all our people.”
Cuba’s socialism and its Revolution makes it possible to channel the human and material resources—despite severe challenges imposed by the U.S. blockade—toward the betterment of the Cuban people and beyond.