HAVANA._ A Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) expert has said that the Cuban Public health system, universally accessible, is one of the assets that the nation is exploiting in order to eliminate mother-to-baby transmission of syphilis and HIV/AIDS.

Adele Benzaken, co-president of the Regional Committee of experts that visited Cuba to verify compliance with the necessary standards for the vertical elimination of both diseases, told the Prensa Latina News Agency that four work areas had been studied in order to learn about how the program is organized in this nation.

A Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) expert has said that the Cuban Public health system, universally accessible, is one of the assets that the nation is exploiting in order to eliminate mother-to-baby transmission of syphilis and HIV/AIDS.Benzaken told a press conference that the information presented by Cuban authorities was confirmed and validated, and that the levels of healthcare and laboratories, among other areas, were evaluated. Some observations were later made and were discussed with the local team, she added.

Benzaken acknowledged that Cuba is the first country in the world to go through this validation process and that it has been an important experience, which “we have enjoyed, and from which we have learned a lot.“

The expert highlighted that the region of the Americas is working hard towards the elimination of mother-to-child transmissions of HIV and syphilis while the rest of the world is merely focusing on general HIV transmission - “To be part of the double-elimination process is a plus for Cuba and the entire region.“

Benzaken said that in order to pass this process, countries must comply, as Cuba has, with standards established by the PAHO.

Meanwhile, Massimo Ghidinelli, chief of PAHO‘s sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/ AIDS, and Hepatitis division, said that this is a first step on the long road to validation.

It is very important that the country has completed this stage although certain elements are still to be completed before the final stage.

“Cuba‘s decision to engage in the process is of utmost importance and has been a mission marked by great participation on all levels of the health system .“

Ghidinelli said that “by being such an integrated process, it becomes a virtual examination or evaluation of a whole health care system seeking a specific result. There was a great degree of transparency and interaction that facilitated the work of the committee which was even able to review the clinical records of individual cases.“

“The goals have been reached, but the process has not been concluded. A very, very important phase has been completed and it has been very successful,“ he added.

In the next few weeks, we expect to work on other necessary phases, including the regional committee‘s report which will be submitted to the World Health Organization (WHO), he said.

The validation process is global and involves global public health - it is WHO‘s responsability to conclude what to date has been an intense and costly process.

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