WHO renames monkeypox as mpox over racism, stigmatisation concerns

THE World Health Organization (WHO) declared on Monday, November 28, that “mpox” is now the preferred name for monkeypox.

WHO said both names would be used simultaneously for one year while ‘monkeypox’ is phased out.

Monkeypox was named in 1970, more than a decade after the virus that causes the disease was discovered in captive monkeys, the organization said.


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The health body said scientists and experts have pushed since the recent outbreak to change the name to avoid discrimination and stigma that could steer people away from testing and vaccination.

WHO said it was worried by the “racist and stigmatizing language” attached after monkeypox spread to more than 100 countries.

Many individuals and countries asked the organization “to propose a way forward to change the name”.

In August, WHO encouraged people to propose new names for monkeypox by submitting suggestions to its website.

WHO said the consultation process included experts from medical, scientific, classification and statistics advisory committees “which constituted of representatives from government authorities of 45 different countries”.

“The issue of the use of the new name in different languages was extensively discussed. The preferred term mpox can be used in other languages.






     

     

    “WHO will adopt the term mpox in its communications and encourages others to follow these recommendations, to minimize any ongoing negative impact of the current name and from the adoption of the new name,” WHO said.

    So far, more than 81,000 monkeypox cases in 110 countries have been reported to WHO in the recent outbreak. WHO says the global risk remains moderate, and outside of countries in West and Central Africa, the spell continues to affect men who have sex with men primarily.

    WHO said Monday that “monkeypox” would remain searchable in the International Classification of Diseases to allow access to historical information. The one-year period when both will be used provides time for publications and communications to be updated.

    Monkeypox is caused by the monkeypox virus, a member of the Orthopoxvirus genus in the family Poxviridae.

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