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Citing racism and stigmatization concerns, the World Health Organization renames the rare viral disease as “Mpox”

WHO renames monkeypox as Mpox

Image Credits: Associated Press

On Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said monkeypox should now be known by a new preferred term – “Mpox” to avoid racism and stigmatization surrounding the name of the disease.

Both Mpox, the synonym for monkeypox, and monkeypox itself will be used simultaneously for one year while “monkeypox” is phased out.

In a tweet, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director, Rochelle Walensky, mentioned that the CDC will also begin to use the term “Mpox.”

“We welcome and support the renaming to Mpox to reduce stigma and barriers to care for those most impacted,” he added.

“We must do all we can to break down barriers to public health, and reducing the stigma associated with the disease is one critical step in our work to end “Mpox,” said U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.

The disease primarily occurs in tropical rainforest areas of Central and West Africa. However, a surge in infections has been reported since May 2022 in other parts of the world.

More than a hundred countries where Mpox is not endemic have experienced outbreaks of the rare viral disease. There have been more than 80,000 cases, with 110 countries affected. (UN News)

In the recent outbreak, the WHO said they had “received reports of racism and stigmatizing language online, in other settings, and in some communities.”

The health agency said: “In several meetings, public and private, a number of individuals and countries raised concerns and asked WHO to propose a way forward to change the name.” (Aljazeera)

The agency is mandated to assign new names to existing diseases under the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

It seeks to avoid offending any cultural, ethnic, social, national, or regional groups and aims to minimize the negative impact on trade, travel, and tourism.

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