Monday, May 20, 2024

WHO seeks investment in monkeypox vaccine as virus plagues 70 countries

“We have had many cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Cameroon, and some sporadic cases in countries such as Ghana, Benin etc.”

• August 3, 2022
Monkeypox used to illustrate the story [Credit: The Health Site]

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called on the global community to invest in the production of vaccines to curb the spread of monkeypox, especially in Africa.

WHO assistant director-general for emergencies Ibrahima Soce Fall said countries needed to work more together to stop the rapidly spreading outbreak of monkeypox, “no matter the nationality, skin colour or religion of the affected population.”

The official said although a vaccine to prevent monkeypox was approved in 2019, availability remained limited at the moment.

“We have had many cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Cameroon, and some sporadic cases in countries such as Ghana, Benin etc,” Mr Fall explained in a Tuesday statement. “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.”

Mr Fall further noted that “if we only treat what is happening in Europe and America, we will only treat the symptoms of monkeypox, but not the real disease.”

The official added that WHO had 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 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,” Mr Fall said.

On July 23, WHO declared the spread of the virus to be a public health emergency of international concern – the organisation’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 colour, or their religion. I think it is extremely important and now that more than 70 countries are affected in the world, everyone is getting active,” added the WHO official.

Until 2022, he said, the virus that caused monkeypox had rarely spread outside Africa, where it was endemic.

But reports of a handful of cases in Britain in early May signalled that the outbreak had moved into Europe.

“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,” Mr Fall stated. 


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