DAKAR, Senegal – The World Health Organization (WHO) Tuesday urged countries, including those in the Caribbean, to work more together to stop the rapidly spreading outbreak of Monkeypox, “no matter the nationality, skin color or religion of the affected population”.
WHO Assistant Director-General for Emergencies, Ibrahima Soce Fall, said that “we have been working on Monkeypox in Africa for several years, but nobody was interested”.
Once referred to as a “neglected tropical disease,” he said that WHO had been working on Monkeypox with very few resources.
However, once northern countries began getting affected by the disease “the world reacted."
“It was the same with the Zika virus and we have to stop this discrimination,” said Dr. Fall.
On 23 July, the WHO declared the spread of the virus to be a public health emergency of international concern – the organization’s highest level of alert. In this way, WHO aims to enhance coordination, the cooperation of nations, and global solidarity.
“The world must be involved to protect these populations, no matter their nationality, their skin color, or their religion,” said Dr. Fall,
“I think it is extremely important and now that more than 70 countries are affected in the world, everyone is getting active”.
Until this year, the virus that causes Monkeypox has rarely spread outside Africa, where it is endemic.
But reports of a handful of cases in Britain in early May signaled that the outbreak had moved into Europe. The virus has been reported in The Bahamas, Jamaica, Barbados and Bermuda as well as Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
“It is important, and we have already been doing so, to accelerate the research and development agenda on Monkeypox so that the most affected African countries can have the resources to prevent and fight against Monkeypox,” said Dr Fall.
Although a vaccine to prevent Monkeypox was approved in 2019, availability remains limited at the moment.
“I think it is time that the world invests so that these populations that are living in rural areas and in forest areas, can be protected”. If we only treat what is happening in Europe and America, we will only treat the symptoms of Monkeypox, but not the real disease. It is important that the world gets mobilized to this kind of disease,” said Dr. Fall.