NAMIBIA—The World Health Organization (WHO), in partnership with UNICEF, UNAIDS, and UNFPA, has designated Namibia as the “silver tier” for hepatitis B progress and the “bronze tier” for HIV progress.

This followed a validation process that evaluated data and standardized disease elimination milestones, with WHO certifying it for achieving silver tier status for administering the hepatitis B vaccine to 50% or more newborn babies and bronze certification for reducing vertical HIV transmission from mother to child to less than 5%. 

This success is the result of a determined plan to reduce the transmission of hepatitis B, HIV, and syphilis, indicating that the government has committed solid domestic money to national health programmes that provide broadly accessible, high-quality, and free clinical treatments and support. 

The WHO’s Triple Elimination Initiative seeks to protect mothers and children’s health while also affirming every child’s right to be born free of these infections.

The Triple Elimination Initiative aims to put an end to vertical transmission of HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis B virus, all of which are common in low- and middle-income nations.

It urges governments to integrate services and use a person-centered approach to improving health outcomes for women and children.

Namibia combines primary health care with prenatal, child, and sexual and reproductive health services.

HIV testing for pregnant women is practically universal throughout the country, and access to treatment has resulted in a 70% drop in vertical transmission during the previous 20 years.

In 2022, only 4% of children delivered to HIV-positive moms were infected. Almost 80% of infants received a hepatitis B vaccine shot at birth, which is one of the important success criteria on the way to elimination.

Eastern and Southern Africa are home to more than half of the world’s HIV burden, and Africa accounts for two thirds of new hepatitis B infections globally, with Namibia consisting of more than 200 000 persons living with HIV, and new infections disproportionately affect females.

Since 2010, 2.5 million children worldwide have avoided vertical transmission of HIV, with 28,000 coming from Namibia.

Speaking at the occasion, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, remarked that Namibia’s landmark achievement highlights the life-saving possibilities of committed political leadership and successful implementation of public health goals.

“With concerted efforts, we can accelerate progress to reach the goals of ending mother-to-child transmission of HIV, hepatitis B, and syphilis—the triple elimination,” he added.

In her remarks, Anne Githuku-Shongwe, UNAIDS Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, emphasized that many nations are failing to reach children while reaching their mothers and other adults.

She went on to say that Namibia has fought against this injustice and is delighted to recognize their incredible efforts to leave no kid behind, serving as a beacon for the entire region.

For her part, Etleva Kadilli, UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, stated that Namibia achieved this milestone by implementing a properly integrated HIV response from the start.

Kadili further stated that Namibia has not treated HIV as a solitary disease, but rather as part of a larger health and development program that includes maternal and child health for all mothers and children, even in the most remote locations.

Namibia launched its first National Elimination Strategy in 2014, followed by the National Roadmap to Eliminate HIV and Syphilis by 2020, with viral hepatitis B added later.

Namibia formed a multisectoral National Validation Committee in accordance with WHO guidelines to eliminate the three illnesses.

Namibia is now the first country in Africa, and the first high-burden country in the world to reach a critical milestone on the path toward eliminating vertical mother-to-child transmission of both HIV and viral hepatitis B.

For all the latest healthcare industry news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, and YouTube Channel, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, and like us on Facebook.