Use of name can have ‘devastating and stigmatizing effects’ on vulnerable communities, says city health chief
New York City Health Chief Ashwin Vasan is calling on the World Health Organization (WHO) to expedite the renaming of monkeypox, as he says continued use of the term has “potentially devastating and stigmatizing on vulnerable communities”.
In a message to WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Tuesday, Vasan reminded the organization that it had promised a rebranding of the disease on June 14, but – five weeks later – won’t. hasn’t done it yet.
“We are increasingly concerned about the potentially devastating and stigmatizing effects that messaging around the ‘monkeypox’ virus can have on these already vulnerable communities,” he added. he wrote.
The term should be dropped, New York’s health chief argued, because of the “the stigma it can bring, and the painful and racist history in which terminology like this is rooted for communities of color.”
The very name “monkey pox” is a “inappropriate term” because the virus – which leaves distinctive pustules on the skin, but rarely leads to death – did not originate in monkeys, but was “only classified as such due to an infection observed in research primates”, he underlined.
The price of the fight against monkeypox in the United States revealed – media
“The language we use in public health, and it has tangible effects on the safety of communities most at risk of poor health outcomes,” Vasan wrote.
He referred to the increase in hate crimes against people of Asian descent in the United States during the Covid-19 pandemic due to the association of the virus with China where the first major outbreak was discovered.
“We are concerned that the consequences of the stigma associated with ‘monkeypox’ will be
exacerbated given that in many settings transmission is concentrated among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men – a population we know faces stigma, marginalization, violence and even to criminalization, underlined the head of health.
Because of all this, WHO must act “immediately by renaming” sickness, he insisted.
Cases of monkeypox were detected in several countries in May, spreading so rapidly that it was declared a “public health emergency of international concern” by the WHO last week.
As of Thursday, there were nearly 20,700 confirmed cases worldwide, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control. More than 4,600 of them have been recorded in the United States, including 1,100 cases in New York.
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