ECONOMYNEXT- The World Health Organisation (WHO) has asked the public’s help in renaming the monkeypox virus in an attempt to discourage misconceptions fueled by racism and stigma around the LGBTQI+ community.
In a statement released on August 12, WHO said it is holding an “open consultation for a new disease name for monkeypox. Anyone wishing to propose new names can do so.”
“Current best practice is that newly-identified viruses, related disease, and virus variants should be given names with the aim to avoid causing offense to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional, or ethnic groups, and minimise any negative impact on trade, travel, tourism or animal welfare,” the statement said.
Health experts and scientists called for an “urgent need” in changing the name of the virus, as a move to combat racism and stigma around the LGBTQI+ community.
“The prevailing perception in the international media and scientific literature is that [monkeypox virus] is endemic in people in some African countries.In the context of the current global outbreak, continued reference to, and nomenclature of this virus being African is not only inaccurate but is also discriminatory and stigmatising,” the team of scientists was quoted as saying.
Names for the virus can be submitted through an online portal. As of August 10, 27,814 cases have been confirmed by WHO globally, with cases being reported in 89 countries. Global risk is considered moderate.
Link to the portal for renaming – https://icd.who.int/dev11
Sri Lanka has no reported cases of monkeypox yet. Deputy Director General of Health Services DrHemantha Herath ensured that Sri Lanka is ready to tackle the disease.
“When the outbreak was reported globally, we issued reports to the medical practitioners as to how they should handle any suspected cases,” Herath said speaking to EconmyNext on Monday August 15.
Meanwhile, the WHO handed over real-time PCR test kits for monkeypox to Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella on August 05 and the kits may be used for diagnosis of up to 730 monkeypox cases.
“The decision taken with regard to the name can have an impact on the concerns spoken about. However, on most occasions the old name will continue. Changing the name is not a 100 percent solution, but educating and empowering the people will also have an impact.” said Herath.
“They changed the name of Bombay onions to big onion, but people here still refer to it as Bombay onions. So it is not a 100 percent solution but to some extent will mitigate the impact,” he said. (Colombo/Aug/2022)