The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (W.H.O.) are pinning their hopes on a new set of guidelines playing a critical role in reducing H.I.V. transmission in Samoa.
The M.O.H. Chief Executive Officer, Leausa Dr Take Naseri said the guideline is an adaptation of the 2016 W.H.O. guidelines that have been contextualised for Samoa’s healthcare system and clinicians.
“The health sector, stakeholders and partners were consulted in order to tailor these guidelines to better fit Samoa’s resources, service delivery systems, multilateral partnerships, and ultimately the needs of patients,” he said.
“Samoa, as well as the Pacific region as a whole, has long faced high rates of sexual transmitted infections, which are only projected to increase within the coming five years,” he said while emphasizing that quality clinical case management of S.T.I. is an essential part of the national response.
“Linked to S.T.I. management is H.I.V. testing services, which involves clinicians, laboratories, public health, and the communities themselves in detecting infections and connecting people to the services they need."
“Samoa has historically adopted a treat all approach to those that test positive for H.I.V, giving all people A.R.T. free of cost. It is therefore essential that providers in Samoa are fluent in the latest practices for treatment.”
According to Leausa, Samoa has always demonstrated a firm commitment on improving maternal and child health through both the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals.
He said notes provided in the guidelines come from numerous consultations on how to implement the recommendations nationally.
“We hope that providers will find this useful in their practice. We are grateful for all of the work from our national and international partners in health that has gone into the development of these guidelines.”
According to the Global A.I.D.S. Monitoring Report 2018, the first case of H.I.V. recorded in Samoa was in 1990.
There have been 24 cumulative cases reported since then with 11 cases of persons currently living with H.I.V.
There have been seven cases of mother-to-child transmission.
Leausa said although Samoa has a low prevalence rate, it is likely that there are more cases that have gone undetected.
“Of the living cases of H.I.V, nine are receiving treatment from the public health sector, while two receive private treatment from overseas. There have been two cases of successful prevention of M.T.C. transmission through the administration of A.R.V. regimens in pregnant women,” he added.
The primary mode of H.I.V. transmission in Samoa is through heterosexual sex.