The World Health Organisation has certified the Maldives for eliminating the transmission of HIV and syphilis from mother to child.
WHO Regional Director for South East Asia Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh awarded the certificate to Vice President Faisal Naseem at a ceremony held on Monday morning at the Hotel Jen in Malé.
The Maldives becomes only the 12th country to achieve the milestone.
According to the health ministry, efforts towards elimination began in 2014 with the formation of a National Validation Committee to carry out a campaign.
The WHO certificate was awarded after data was collected on prenatal health care and prenatal HIV and syphilis screening. A report based on the evaluation was submitted last year.
The data confirmed the lack of detection of HIV or syphilis from a woman or child during the past two years.
In her remarks at the ceremony, Dr Singh commended the work of the authorities and health sector.
“With a consistently high budget for health, over 9 percent of GDP, and persistent efforts over the years to ensure quality care, Maldives has overcome unique and huge challenges to be in the forefront to eliminate diseases such as malaria, lymphatic filariasis, measles, and now mother-to-child transmission of HIV and Syphilis,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh.
The Maldives became the first member state of the WHO Southeast Asia region to be verified malaria-free in 2015 and went on to eliminate lymphatic filariasis and measlesduring the past two years. Polio, as well as maternal and neonatal tetanus, were previously eliminated whilst leprosy is no longer a public health problem.