The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that it is collaborating with its partners on renaming the monkeypox virus and its variants. The announcement was made on Tuesday by the Director-General (DG) of WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus who stated that the new name would be announced as soon as possible. Last week, more than 30 international scientists signed a document that called for the renaming of the monkeypox virus because “a continued reference to, and nomenclature of this virus being African is not only inaccurate but is also discriminatory and stigmatizing”.
The document reads in part: “There is an increasing narrative in the media and among many scientists that are trying to link the present global outbreak to Africa or West Africa or Nigeria”.
The document also proposed that media outlets should stop using pictures of Africans with pox lesions to report on outbreaks in Western nations like Europe.
According to a spokesperson of WHO, the organization is currently consulting with experts in orthopoxviruses, the family of virus to which monkeypox belongs, on more appropriate names for the virus, adding that naming the disease “should be done with the aim to minimize the negative impact and avoid causing offense to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional or ethnic groups”.
Currently, more than 1,600 confirmed cases of the virus have been recorded in 39 countries worldwide.