New York urges WHO to ‘immediately’ rename monkeypox — Analysis

Using the name further may have “devastating and stigmatizing effects” on vulnerable communities, the city’s health chief claims

New York City’s health chief Ashwin Vasan is calling on the World Health Organization (WHO) to speed up the renaming of monkeypox, as he claims the continued use of the term carries “potentially devastating and stigmatizing effects on vulnerable communities.”

In a message on Tuesday, addressed to WHO director general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Vasan reminded the organization that it had promised a re-branding of the disease on June 14, but – five weeks later – hasn’t yet done so.

“We have a growing concern for the potentially devastating and stigmatizing effects that the messaging around the ‘monkeypox’ virus can have on these already vulnerable communities,”He wrote.

According to New York City’s health chief, this term should be dropped because of the “stigma it may engender, and the painful and racist history within which terminology like this is rooted for communities of color.”

The very name ‘monkeypox’ is a “misnomer” as the virus – that leaves distinctive pustules on skin, but rarely results in fatalities – didn’t originate in monkeys, but was “only classified as such due to an infection seen in research primates,”He pointed it out.

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“The language we use in public health matters, and it has tangible effects on the safety of communities most at risk for poor health outcomes,”Vasan wrote.

He spoke out about the rise in hate crime against Americans of Asian descent during the Covid-19 Pandemic, which was caused by the virus’ association with China.

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“We fear the consequences due to ‘monkeypox’ related stigma may be
exacerbated given that in many contexts, transmission is concentrated among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men — a population we know to face ongoing stigma, marginalization, violence and even criminalization,”The health chief stressed this point.

WHO has to act because of this. “immediately on renaming”He insisted on the existence of the disease.

Monkeypox cases were detected in several countries in May, spreading so quickly that it was declared a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’ by the WHO last week.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, as of Thursday there were almost 20,700 cases worldwide. There have been more than 4,600 cases, including 1,100 in New York City.

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