The Sultanate of Oman added another feather in its cap when it became the first country in the region not to record, for more than three years, the transmission of AIDS from mother to child. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, praised the Sultanate of Oman on becoming the first country in the Eastern Mediterranean Region to be validated for EMTC of HIV and syphilis.
“By this, Oman is considered the 16th country to eliminate vertical transmission of HIV and syphilis. The work doesn't stop there, maintaining the status will require to sustain broad efforts to prevent new HIV and syphilis infections throughout the entire population"
The international recognition certificate for the eradication of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV and syphilis in the Sultanate of Oman was handed over to Dr Hilal bin Ali al Sabti, Minister of Health in a function last week.
The certificate was handed over by Dr Ahmed 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. Most 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 of Oman has to be praised for its commitment to WHO suggestions."
Dr Shereen el Feki, UNAIDS regional director, said that Oman achieved this cooperation with the private sector.
Speaking to the Observer, Dr Badr bin Saif al Rawahi, Director-General of Disease Control at the Ministry of Health, said, “This achievement was a result of an integrated and continuous work for years and is considered the first at the level of the Eastern Mediterranean Region.”
Saif al Abri of the MoH said the efficiency of the Omani health sector was achieved because of institutional and individual work.
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.
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 percent. 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; and support to mothers living with HIV and their infants.