By Sola Ogundipe
THE World Health Organisation, WHO, has called on Africa and the Western countries to adopt a unified response to the global Monkeypox outbreak as the virus continues to spread.
The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, who made the call during a press conference, observed that while the Monkeypox virus has not spread to new non-endemic countries in Africa, noted that within countries with outbreaks, the virus has been expanding its geographic reach in recent years.
Her words: “We must avoid having two different responses to monkeypox – one for Western countries which are only now experiencing significant transmission and another for Africa. We must work together and have joined-up global actions which include Africa’s experience, expertise and needs.
“This is the only way to ensure we reinforce surveillance and better understand the evolution of the disease, while scaling up readiness and response to curb any further spread.
“While parts of the continent might have built up some immunity against the disease, there are populations that are particularly vulnerable such as health workers and contacts of cases,” she argued.
In her view, it is critical that the continent has equal access to effective monkeypox vaccines and that globally it is ensured that vaccine doses reach every community in need.
Moeti said from preliminary reports, Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, the Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone, had reported nearly 1,400 monkeypox cases by mid-May 2022, noted that the number of cases in 2022 are slightly fewer than half of cases reported in 2021.
According to her, until 2019, monkeypox in Nigeria was reported mainly in the south of the country but since 2020, the virus had spread into the central, eastern and northern parts of the country.