Aug 10

Namibia’s path to triple elimination status of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis B virus

This week Namibia is hosting a team from the Regional Validation Committee to assess Namibia’s submission for Path to Elimination of Mother to child transmission of HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis B.

Namibia has prioritized HIV prevention and control and is one of the few countries in sub-Sahara Africa to achieve the UNAIDS HIV treatment cascade of 95-95-95.  The National roadmap for elimination of mother- to- child (vertical) transmission of HIV and Syphilis was launched in 2020 and at launching, the National validation Committee was inaugurated under the Ministry of Health and Social Services leadership.

At the opening session of the mission, Mr Ben Nangombe, the Executive Director of the Ministry of Health and Social Services said that ‘Namibia has attained almost universal testing coverage for HIV and syphilis in Antenatal Care settings and almost all those who test positive for HIV and Syphilis receive treatment. The programme data indicates that Namibia is doing well with HBV antenatal testing and antiviral prophylaxis coverage as well as HBV vaccination birth dose for infants’.

Dr Mary Brantuo, WHO Namibia Officer-in-Charge, said that the Triple Elimination Initiative supports the global commitment to the elimination of mother-to-child or vertical transmission of HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis B virus (HBV).  She further said that it has catalyzed maternal and child health services to expand capacity to address vertical transmission and encourages countries to simultaneously commit to EMTCT and further push a harmonized approach for integrated service delivery to improve health outcomes for mothers and children. This is in line with the new Global Health Sector Strategy for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and STIs 2022-2030 with a vision to end epidemics and advance Universal Health Coverage, Primary Health Care, and health security in a world where all people have access to high-quality, evidence-based, and people-centred health services, she said.

Dr Eager Olyel, Technical Officer for HIV Prevention from WHO AFRO, said that the validation aims to attest that the country has successfully met the criteria of eMTCT.  These requirements are programme and services relating to availability and accessibility  of  high quality ANC services  in both public and private health facilities, laboratory services with reference to internal and external quality assurance as well as  proficiency in testing, documenting results and having a national lab policy an network available, surveillance and data evaluation that captures public and private data on service delivery  and outcomes and can detect most cases of MTCT of HIV, syphilis and Hepatitis B. The fourth requirement is human rights, gender equality and community engagement which will review how the principles of human rights, gender equality was considered during implementation and if a positive legal and policy framework is in place.

The Regional Validation Team will be working with the National Validation Committee and aim to consult 4 regions Oshana, Omaheke, Zambezi and //Kharas Regions. Their report and recommendations on whether Namibia successfully met the Path to EMTCT validation criteria will be shared with the Global Validation Advisory Committee (GVAC) for further review.