Even as global monkeypox cases soar past 82,000, the World Health Organization (WHO) flexed its muscles in the never-ending struggle against systemic racism. The organization recently announced the virus will assume the less racially and culturally insensitive name of “mpox.”
The WHO made the switch due to its charge that the original name carried “racist and stigmatizing language.” It added that both titles will be used as the virus undergoes the critical transition.
The Biden administration, keeping with its fixation on all things racial, said it “welcome(s) the change” and that the U.S. will use mpox “from this point forward.”
So they gave it a nickname instead? https://t.co/hQkaktNHKl
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) November 29, 2022
This decision was questioned by Dr. Ifeanyi Nsofor, a global health equity advocate with the Aspen Institute. He praised removing “monkey” from the title while keeping “pox” but wondered why the original name was not immediately changed.
The agency explained that the yearlong transition is to give ample time for records and publications to be updated with the new, less offensive title.
The first human case was discovered only in 1970, though the disease was originally found several years earlier in captive monkeys. This recent outbreak is the first to spread around the globe, though there were regional clusters of cases previously.
The controversy originated when a group of African doctors released a public statement calling out both the name and international media coverage of the outbreak.
The document noted that prior to this year, almost all outbreaks resulted from “spillover from animals to humans and only rarely have there been reports of sustained human-to-human transmissions.”
The doctors also bemoaned references to the 2022 outbreak as being rooted in West Africa. They then proceeded to urge a “neutral, non-discriminatory and non-stigmatizing” label for the disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the U.S. has suffered 29,630 cases as of Dec. 2, resulting in 20 deaths. It also noted that the majority of the outbreak has affected “gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men.”
With tens of thousands of cases of an apparently highly transmissible disease reported worldwide, surely the medical community has more urgent needs to fixate on that changing disease names. But apparently not.