South Sudan endangered as monkeypox detected in CAR and DRC
Seven African countries have confirmed cases of the dreaded monkeypox disease that was reported in Europe earlier this month, the World Health Organisation has said.
According to a press release by WHO, issued on Tuesday, there are 1392 suspected and 44 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, and South Sudanese neighbours, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Republic of the Congo.
WHO noted that it was in partnership with other relevant health bodies to assess the prevalence of the outbreak and contain the disease before it got out of hand.
‘‘WHO and partners are working to better understand the magnitude and cause of a global monkeypox outbreak, which is atypical as many cases are being reported in non-endemic countries that have not previously had significant spread among people with no travel to endemic zones,’’ WHO noted.
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, called for a joint effort to deal with the disease, saying the responses needed to have a unilateral approach to bear fruits.
“We must avoid having two different responses to monkeypox – one for Western countries, which are only now experiencing significant transmission, and another for Africa,” said Dr Moeti.
“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.”
According to Dr Moeti, Africa has successfully dealt with the same disease in the past, hence, containing it would not be a problem.
“Africa has successfully contained past monkeypox outbreaks and from what we know about the virus and modes of transmission, the rise in cases can be stopped,” said Dr Moeti.
“It is critical that the continent has equal access to effective monkeypox vaccines and that globally we ensure vaccine doses reach every community in need. While parts of the continent might have built up some immunity against the disease, some populations are particularly vulnerable such as health workers and contacts of cases.