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WHO urges vigilance over another monkeypox outbreak

COPENHAGEN, May 19 ----- Although monkeypox is no longer considered a public health emergency of international concern, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Office for Europe on Wednesday sounded the alarm over the potential risk of another monkeypox outbreak.

As this developed, WHO Europe launched a new campaign called "Eliminating mpox: Placing affected populations at the heart of our response" as it noted the increase in the number of monkeypox cases with 17 new infections reported in eight countries in the European region in four weeks leading up to May 4. The campaign is 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. This also includes promoting accessible testing and vaccination in the most affected communities with clear information on availability and eligibility.

The campaign also includes developing comprehensive vaccination plans, enhancing health worker skills to identify monkeypox signs, and offer appropriate advice and care, and declaring monkeypox 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.

The campaign also aims to offer a platform for the most vulnerable to share their experiences and 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,” he added.

This initiative follows the successful management of the largest-ever monkeypox outbreak in the European region in 2022, which provided valuable insights and refined control measures for the disease, the agency added.



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