The WHO rename monkeypox to avoid racist stereotypes

In a bid to avoid racism and stigmatisation, the World Health Organization (WHO) is renaming monkeypox, mpox. The WHO will use mpox as a synonym for monkeypox. Both names will be used simultaneously for one year while monkeypox is phased out altogether.

The move comes after the United Nations voiced concerns over the way the virus was being reported by the world’s media after an outbreak in May earlier this year. The UN believes the reporting appeared to “reinforce homophobic and racist stereotypes and exacerbate stigma.”

The latest surge in monkeypox infections was among men who had sex with other men but the WHO made it known that anybody can catch monkeypox.

In May, the disease, which causes fever, muscular aches and large boil-like skin lesions, spread rapidly causing panic that the world was set for another global pandemic.

The WHO declared the spread of monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), the global health organisation’s highest level of alert, on July 23. Fortunately, the disease did not have a Covid-19 effect on the rest of the world.

The UN health agency yesterday said…

“When the outbreak of monkeypox expanded earlier this year, racist and stigmatising language online, in other settings and some communities was observed and reported to WHO.”

The WHO launched a public consultation process to find a new name for the disease earlier this year and received more than 200 proposals.

A men’s health organization, REZO, suggested the name is changed to mpox or Mpox and added that if media outlets stopped using monkey imagery people would take the disease more seriously.

The WHO will begin using a new preferred term mpox as a synonym for monkeypox. Both names will be used simultaneously for one year while monkeypox is phased out

United States Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra welcomed the announcement.

“We must do all we can to break down barriers to public health, and reducing stigma associated with the disease is one critical step in our work to end mpox.”

The WHO has the mandate to assign new names to existing diseases under the International Classification of Diseases.

Generally, it seeks to avoid associating any disease or virus with a country, region, animal or ethnic group.

“The WHO will adopt the term mpox in its communications, and encourages others to follow these recommendations, to minimise any ongoing negative impact of the current name.”

The one-year transition is to avoid confusion caused by changing the name in the midst of a global outbreak.

The WHO confirmed there had been 81,107 confirmed cases and 55 deaths from 110 countries this year.

About 97% of those infected were men, with a median age of 34 years old; 85% identified as men who had sex with men, according to the WHO’s case dashboard.

The 10 most affected countries globally are the US (29,001), Brazil (9,905), Spain (7,405), France (4,107), Colombia (3,803), Britain (3,720), Germany (3,672), Peru (3,444), Mexico (3,292), and Canada (1,449). They account for 86% of the global number of cases.

There have been 12 recorded cases of mpox in Thailand. The latest, a 25-year-old man, arrived in Thailand from Oman on October 3 and then travelled to Phuket the following day with three friends.

The disease was first discovered in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with the spread among humans since then mainly limited to certain West and Central African nations.

HealthNewsThailand News

Bob Scott

Bob Scott is an experienced writer and editor with a passion for travel. Born and raised in Newcastle, England, he spent more than 10 years in Asia. He worked as a sports writer in the north of England and London before relocating to Asia. Now he resides in Bangkok, Thailand, where he is the Editor-in-Chief for The Thaiger English News. With a vast amount of experience from living and writing abroad, Bob Scott is an expert on all things related to Asian culture and lifestyle.

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