No more monkeypox: WHO seeks to rename the disease to avoid stigma

TRUMP-22 or Mpox, are some of the ideas sent by the public to the World Health Organization (WHO) in its search for a new name for the monkey pox.

Often the disease names they are chosen behind closed doors by a technical committee, but this time the WHO has decided to open the process to the public. Dozens of proposals have already been submitted by various contributors, including academics, doctors and an activist from the gay community.

Pressure has grown for a new name for the disease, in part because critics say it is misleading as monkeys are not the original host animal.

A group of leading scientists drafted a paper in June calling for a “neutral, non-discriminatory and non-stigmatizing“, fearing that the name could be used in a racist way. Until this year, monkeypox had spread mainly in a handful of countries in West and Central Africa.

“It is very important that we find a new name for monkeypox because it is the best practice not to create any offense to an ethical group, a region, a country, a animaletc,” WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said on Tuesday.

“The WHO is very concerned about this matter and we want to find a name that is not stigmatizing,” he added without giving a deadline.

One of the most popular proposals so far is Mpoxpresented by Samuel Miriello, director of the men’s health organization RÉZO, which is already using the name in its outreach campaigns in Montreal, Canada.

“When the monkey image is removed, people seem to understand more quickly that there is an emergency that needs to be taken seriously,” he told Reuters.

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Another proposal, TRUMP-22, appeared to refer to former US President Donald Trump, who used the controversial term “chinese virus” to refer to the new coronavirus, although its author said that it meant “toxic eruption of unknown mysterious origin of 2022”, for its acronym in English.

The WHO is mandated to assign new names to existing diseases. The entity said it would decide between the proposals “based on their scientific validity, their acceptability, their pronounceability (and) whether they can be used in different languages.”

“I’m sure that we will not come up with a ridiculous nameChaib said.

Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 and was named after the first animal to show symptoms. The WHO last month declared the current outbreak a public health emergency having registered more than 32 thousand cases in more than 80 countries. (rts)

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