Health Medical Uncategorized

WHO recommends renaming Monkeypox as mpox

HQ Team

November 28, 2022: The World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday that it will begin using mpox in place of Monkeypox and will phase out the name Monkeypox for the disease over the next year.

The name Monkeypox has acquired racist connotations online. The WHO took note of this sentiment in its statement:

 “When the outbreak of monkeypox expanded earlier this year, racist and stigmatizing language online, in other settings and in some communities was observed and reported to WHO. In several meetings, public and private, a number of individuals and countries raised concerns and asked WHO to propose a way forward to change the name.”

The WHO can name and rename diseases under the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). In the ICD, each disease is assigned a code that countries around the world use for health billing purposes and to collect and research health data.

Earlier, Mongolism was replaced with Down’s Syndrome, which is now referred to as Trisomy 21.

WHO, in accordance with the ICD update process, held consultations to gather views from a range of experts, as well as countries and the general public, who were invited to submit suggestions for new names. Based on these consultations, and further discussions with WHO’s Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, recommended that mpox become the preferred name for referencing the disease. Also:

  • The synonym mpox will be included in the ICD-10 online in the coming days. It will be a part of the official 2023 release of ICD-11, which is the current global standard for health data, clinical documentation and statistical aggregation.
  • The term “monkeypox” will remain a searchable term in ICD, to match historic information.

The WHO might be able to satisfy some critics of the term monkeypox, but it will not drive the word from the scientific literature. Authority to change the name of a virus is the purview of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses, which to date has expressed unwillingness to drop the term monkeypox, citing a fear that the continuity of the scientific literature could be compromised by giving the virus a new name. The chairman of the committee responsible for renaming poxviruses told STAT in August that monkeypox will likely become Orthopoxvirus monkeypox.

WHO said it will adopt the term mpox in all its communications and encourage others to follow these recommendations to minimize any ongoing negative impact of the current name.

Human monkeypox nomenclature was adopted in 1970 (after the virus that causes the disease was discovered in captive monkeys in 1958). It is only in 2015 that WHO adopted best practices in naming diseases

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