SOUTH AFRICA—In a promising development towards ending the HIV pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) has joined forces with South Africa’s National Department of Health (NDoH) to establish a roadmap for eliminating HIV, syphilis, and Hepatitis B.

This initiative came to light during a training workshop held in Johannesburg from February 6th to 8th, 2024.

The workshop aimed to introduce key stakeholders to the concept of Triple Elimination and the validation process required to achieve it.

Organized in collaboration with the NDoH, UNICEF, UNAIDS, and UNFPA, the workshop assessed South Africa’s progress towards eliminating HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis B virus (HBV), particularly in the area of Mother-to-Child Transmission (MTCT).

The workshop included a diverse range of participants, both physically present and attending online.

 These included representatives from SANAC, civil society organizations, human rights organizations, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and the United States Agency for International Development.

Botswana and Eswatini’s health ministries also participated, fostering knowledge sharing between countries in the region.

Notably, Botswana achieved WHO certification in 2021 for eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV, providing a positive example for others.

This effort aligns with WHO AFRO’s regional goal of supporting countries in achieving Triple Elimination of MTCT of HIV, Syphilis, and HBV, and eliminating Viral Hepatitis as a public health threat.

The training covered essential topics such as validation structures, global criteria, and assessment processes.

Participants also received updates on South Africa’s current progress on MTCT elimination, including achievements and areas identified for improvement through a self-assessment by the NDoH.

Interactive sessions and practical exercises facilitated collaboration in developing a comprehensive national validation roadmap tailored to South Africa’s specific context.

Dr. Sithembile Dlamini-Nqeketo, WHO South Africa’s National Professional Officer for Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH), emphasized WHO’s commitment to guiding South Africa’s efforts towards eliminating HIV.

 The importance of integration and collaboration across sectors was highlighted as critical to success.

The training concluded with the presentation and adoption of a proposed validation plan, signifying a significant step forward in South Africa’s fight against HIV.

Representatives from WHO, UNICEF, and UNAIDS commended the collaborative efforts and pledged their continued support.

The importance of early involvement by women living with HIV (WLHIV) or HBV, and addressing the needs of marginalized and hard-to-reach populations, were emphasized.

To achieve the goal of eliminating vertical transmission of HIV, syphilis, and viral hepatitis B in children, a working committee has been formed by the National Department of Health team, along with all stakeholders.

This committee will lead the validation process, ensuring accountability and driving progress towards a future free of these diseases in South Africa.

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