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"Children in Oman can live without the stigma of having HIV"


Muscat: The international recognition certificate for the eradication of mother-to-child transmission ( PMTCT) of HIV and syphilis in the Sultanate was handed over to Dr Hilal bin Ali al Sabti, Minister of Health, on Wednesday during a function at Al Bustan Palace Hotel.

The certificate was handed over by Dr. Ahmed bin Salem al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Region.

Speaking to the Observer, Al Sabti said, "This is a proud moment and with the cooperation of all our employees, we will continue to move forward."

Al Mandhari said, "This significant achievement is evidence of Oman’s commitment to implement data-driven public health interventions and to ensure that all women living with HIV and their children have access to services, without any discrimination."

He said that the Sultanate is the 16th country to achieve this goal and the first in the region. "Mostly importantly, we now have new generations that are born without the stigma of having been infected with HIV. With this elimination of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including HIV by 2030 is possible. The Sultanate has to be praised for its commitment to WHO suggestions."

Health expert, Dr. Shereen al Feki, UNAIDS regional director, said that Oman achieved this cooperation with the private sector."

Oman has been making steady progress in preparing the groundwork for the successful implementation of PMTCT since 1990 when screening for syphilis became part of antenatal care.

HIV testing was added to ANC screening in 2009, and over the past three decades, these tests have become an integral part of a comprehensive package of care for all pregnant women in both the public and private sectors. Since 2018, ANC coverage and HIV/syphilis testing have been more than 95%.

The MTCT rate for HIV has been less than two percent since 2017 and both the number of cases of vertically infected HIV-positive children and children with congenital syphilis cases are below 50 per 100,000 live births

Oman has adopted the WHO’s 4-prong strategy for a comprehensive PMTCT approach: - Primary prevention of HIV infection among young women of childbearing age, preventing unplanned pregnancies among women living with HIV, and preventing HIV transmission from a woman living with HIV to her infant, providing appropriate treatment, care, and support to mothers living with HIV and their infants.

A number of assessment and validation tools were used to ensure the data that were collected for EMTCT could be verified and impact assessments confirmed.

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