The World Health Organization is to rename the monkeypox virus for reasons of “racism”.
Published on 18.6.2022
The monkeypox virus continues to spread in Europe and the United States. Initially, politicians and public health officials feared the virus would “stigmatize” the LGBT community.
Today, public health officials fear the name of the virus will stigmatize the black community.
“The World Health Organization (WHO) is planning to officially rename the monkeypox virus because it fears the name could encourage racism. Monkeypox has been prevalent in Africa for decades.
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WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced on Tuesday that the organization is “working with partners and experts around the world” to change the name of the virus as quickly as possible, Bloomberg reports.
A WHO spokesperson told Bloomberg in an email that the organization is working with virus experts to come up with another name.
“The name of a disease should be chosen with the aim of minimizing negative impact and avoiding offending cultural, social, national, regional, professional or ethnic groups,” the spokesperson said.
The move comes after dozens of international scientists called for the change in a letter stressing the “urgent need for a non-discriminatory and non-stigmatizing nomenclature for the monkeypox virus”.
In the letter, the scientists claim that calling the virus an “African” virus is not only “inaccurate” but also “discriminatory” and “stigmatising”.
The Foreign Press Association of Africa has also advised against the use of images of Africans in discussions of the monkeypox virus.
The move is part of a broader trend by the WHO and public health organizations to align with cancer control initiatives.
The WHO intentionally avoided using the term “Xi” to refer to any variant of Covid-19 so as not to offend ethnic groups.