African Officials say current surge of monkeypox, an emergency
Monkeypox is spreading rapidly across Africa, and health officials are calling on wealthy countries to help distribute the world’s limited vaccine supply in an effort to prevent the glaring equity issues that plagued the COVID-19 pandemic.
A disease that has plagued portions of central and western Africa for decades, monkeypox is currently going undiscovered due to a lack of laboratory testing and inadequate surveillance. More than 1,800 suspected cases, including more than 70 deaths, have been reported by African countries thus far this year, but only 109 have been verified in the laboratory.
“This particular outbreak for us means an emergency. We want to be able to address monkeypox as an emergency now so that it does not cause more pain and suffering,” Acting Africa Centers for Disease Control director Ahmed Ogwell made the comments.
Monkeypox continues to spread, but WHO’s emergency committee has decided it is not yet an international health emergency. UN Health said it would re-evaluate its decision if other countries were infected, symptoms worsened, or sensitive populations like as pregnant women and children were exposed.
More than 5,000 monkeypox cases have been documented in 51 countries throughout the world, according to the CDC. The vast majority of these occurrences take place in Europe, primarily in the United Kingdom. There have been no reports of deaths outside of Africa.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), monkeypox has spread throughout Africa, including South Africa, Ghana, and Morocco. WHO Africa head Dr. Moeti Matshidiso said that more than 90% of Africa’s infections are concentrated in the Congo and Nigeria.
She explained that, due to a global shortage of vaccines to combat monkeypox, WHO was in discussions with vaccine manufacturers and countries that had stockpiles to see whether they might be shared. As a result, most of these vaccinations aren’t recognized for use against monkeypox in Africa, where the disease is more common. Monkeypox has been eradicated in Africa using a combination of contact tracking and isolation rather than vaccines in the past.
As the race for COVID-19 vaccines last year, countries that have stocks of vaccines to combat monkeypox are not yet sharing them with African countries, according to the WHO.