Monkeypox fears rise after it becomes ‘northern’ disease, says WHO |

Speaking from Dakar, Senegal, WHO Assistant Director General for Emergency Situations Ibrahima Soche Fall said that we are working on monkeypox in Africa for a few years, but no one was interested.”

Once called a “neglected tropical disease”, he said the WHO was working on monkeypox with very few resources.

However, as soon as the Nordic countries began to be hit by the disease, “the world reacted.”

“It was the same with the Zika virus, and we need to stop this discrimination,” Dr. Fall said.

Public health emergency

On July 23, WHO declared the spread of the virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, the organization’s highest alert level.

In this way, WHO seeks to strengthen coordination, cooperation of nations and global solidarity.

“The world must be involved in protecting these populations, regardless of their nationality, color or religion,” Dr. Fall said.

“I think this is extremely important, and now that more than 70 countries have been affected in the world, everyone is active.”

Resources for Africa

Until this year, the monkeypox virus rarely spread outside of Africa, where it is endemic.

But reports of several cases in the UK in early May signal that the outbreak has moved to Europe.

“It is important, and we are already doing it, to accelerate the monkeypox research and development program so that the most affected African countries can have the resources to prevent and control monkeypox,” Dr. Fall said.

Time for global investment

While a monkeypox vaccine was approved in 2019, its availability remains limited at present.

“We have had many cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, the Central African Republic, Cameroon, and a few sporadic cases in countries like Ghana, Benin, etc,” Dr. Fall said. “I think the time has come when the world is investing to be able to protect this rural and forested population.” In the words of Dr. Fall, “If we treat only what is happening in Europe and America, we will only treat the symptoms of monkeypox, not the real disease. It is important that the world mobilizes to fight this kind of disease.”

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