WHO Europe urges vigilance over mpox

People queue outside a monkeypox vaccination clinic in Manchester, Britain, Aug 14, 2022. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

COPENHAGEN – The World Health Organization's Regional Office for Europe on Wednesday launched a new campaign called "Eliminating mpox: Placing affected populations at the heart of our response" to highlight the potential risk of a significant monkeypox (mpox)outbreak.

Although mpox is no longer considered a public health emergency of international concern, recent reports from WHO Europe show an increase in cases, with 17 new infections reported in eight countries in the European region in the four weeks leading up to May 4.

READ MORE: Mpox emergency is over, says WHO

The campaign is meant to be a preemptive response to potential outbreak triggers, such as large gatherings for spring and summer events, inadequate testing and vaccine access, or the influx of infected individuals from other regions.

Complacency is not an option. Our latest mpox policy brief provides a roadmap for countries to control and ultimately eliminate the disease in our region.

Richard Peabody, WHO Europe

Key recommendations for health authorities include promoting accessible testing and vaccination in the most affected communities, with clear information on availability and eligibility.

Other measures include developing comprehensive vaccination plans, enhancing health worker skills to identify mpox signs and offer appropriate advice and care, and declaring mpox a nationally notifiable disease to expedite detection and efficient outbreak response.

Richard Peabody, high-threat pathogen team leader at WHO Europe, stressed the importance of these measures.

"Complacency is not an option. Our latest mpox policy brief provides a roadmap for countries to control and ultimately eliminate the disease in our region," he said in a press release.

ALSO READ: WHO renames monkeypox as 'mpox' to avoid stigma

The campaign also aims to offer a platform for the most vulnerable to share their experiences and insights, said WHO Europe.

People walk past a store in Berlin, Germany, Feb 1, 2023. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

Hans Henri P Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, said he was optimistic about the campaign's potential impact. "Elimination is within our reach, but we must remember that mpox is still circulating. We must renew our collective efforts to stay on course towards eventual elimination."

This initiative follows the successful management of the largest-ever mpox outbreak in the European region in 2022, which provided valuable insights and refined control measures for the disease, according to WHO Europe.

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