WHO Must Declare Monkeypox a Pandemic, say AHF, MPact and Mexican NGOs

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LOS ANGELES–()–With the World Health Organization set to meet for the second time tomorrow to decide whether to declare monkeypox a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), AIDS Healthcare Foundation strongly urges the WHO to acknowledge the rapid, uncontrolled spread of the virus and declare it a pandemic.

Monkeypox has spread to over 60 countries where it is not endemic, resulting in more than 14,100 global cases. However, medical authorities globally indicate cases are likely severely undercounted.

“Delays are a repeat of COVID-19—it’s clear by any logical definition that monkeypox is a pandemic. Public health systems worldwide need to kick in and treat it as such, with a commensurate sense of urgency and vigilance,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein. “Action is what is needed right now, not talk. That action must include an immediate pandemic declaration and clear guidance and information from the WHO and governments on what the public and health care providers need to do to protect people.”

With monkeypox cases increasing in Los Angeles and globally and limited vaccines available, AHF recently announced a six-point plan urging a ramp up of education, prevention and the sharing of viral surveillance data.

“In the absence of a government strategy, 120 civil society organizations and LGBTIQ+, HIV, and sex education groups in Mexico have come together to demand that there be an official response to the monkeypox epidemic,” added Ricardo Baruch, a Mexican public health specialist, gay activist, and social media influencer. “Until now, it is us from civil society who are providing information and developing actions to prevent monkeypox among men who have sex with men and the general population.”

“MPact has been part of the public health conversation since the outbreak began, of which gay, bi, trans, and queer people account for most of the cases,” said Andrew Spieldenner, Ph.D, Executive Director of MPact, an international organization working to promote gay men’s health. “We see how countries are waiting for guidance from WHO on how to proceed. Considering the resources required to provide safe and effective vaccines to gay, bi, trans, and queer people, we need WHO to declare monkeypox a PHEIC. We need public health agencies to advance research and vaccine programs, and we need resources to develop community education campaigns for our own communities.”

Dr. Jorge Saavedra, Executive Director of the AHF Global Public Health Institute at the University of Miami, added, “The WHO has the power to influence countries to do the right things to timely control spreading of a disease such as monkeypox. A PHEIC declaration is a powerful tool to motivate governments. It is commendable that LGBT CSOs, with the support of the Canadian and Montreal governments are mobilizing themselves, including vaccinating gay men. It’s also commendable that in some developing countries, like Mexico, NGOs and community groups have started their own mobilizations to raise awareness on monkeypox among gay men, even without any kind of government support, as mentioned by Mr. Baruch. We cannot repeat the same mistakes done three decades ago with HIV/AIDS, diminishing the impact of an outbreak just because it is only affecting gay men.”

Previously, AHF issued two recent statements with both urging the WHO to declare monkeypox a PHEIC. Since the last press release less than two weeks ago, the number of cases worldwide has nearly doubled. Read the June 27 statement here and the July 8 statement here.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is a global non-profit organization providing cutting-edge medicine and advocacy to over 1.6 million people in 45 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Europe. We are currently the largest non-profit provider of HIV/AIDS medical care in the world. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and Instagram: @aidshealthcare



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