WHO changes name of monkeypox to “mpox” to avoid stigma
– To avoid racist stereotypes and stigmatization, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended Monday to change the name of the monkeypox virus to “mpox”.
Both names, mpox and monkeypox, will be used simultaneously for one year, while the latter will be phased out, the WHO said in a press release. The change comes after various people and countries raised concerns at various meetings and asked the WHO to propose a way to change the name.
The one-year transition period serves to assuage expert concerns about confusion caused by a name change in the midst of a global outbreak. It also allows time to complete the process of updating the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) and updating WHO publications.
In July, the WHO officially declared the monkeypox outbreak in several countries outside traditional endemic areas in Africa a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), the highest level of alert that can issue the world health authority.
It is the responsibility of WHO to assign names to new and existing diseases through a consultative process, which includes WHO member states. The monkeypox consultation has involved representatives of government authorities from 45 different countries, he said.
According to the WHO, as of Saturday, 110 member states had reported 81,107 laboratory-confirmed cases and 1,526 probable cases, including 55 deaths. Most of the cases reported in the last four weeks were from the Americas (92.3 percent) and Europe (5.8 percent). The number of new cases reported weekly globally decreased by 46.1 percent in the week of November 21-27. ■