Why WHO has renamed Monkeypox disease
The World Health Organization has renamed Monkeypox to Mpox in an effort to destigmatize the virus.
The decision was reached after WHO observed and received reports of racist and stigmatizing language online, in other settings and in some communities.
“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,” the agency said.
The decision also follows an initial agreement WHO made to consider suggestions for monkeypox’s new name.
It also comes in response to growing pressure from senior officials in the US government, who privately urged WHO to change the name and suggested the US would act unilaterally if the international body did not move quickly enough.
Mpox is a rare viral disease that primarily occurs in tropical rainforest areas of Central and West Africa, but outbreaks have emerged in other parts of the world this year.
There have been more than 80,000 cases and 55 deaths, with 110 countries affected.
The monkeypox name was given in 1970, some 12 years after the virus that causes the disease was discovered in captive monkeys.
This was before WHO first published best practices on naming diseases in 2015.
These guidelines recommend that the names of new diseases should aim to minimize unnecessary negative impacts on trade, travel, tourism or animal welfare. The names should also avoid offending any cultural, social, national, regional, professional or ethnic groups.