WHO Adopts new Name for Monkeypox Disease

ADDIS ABABA – The World Health Organization (WHO) to phase out the term Monkeypox in a year after adopting a new name ‘mpox’ for the disease.

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.

The public and private, a number of individuals and countries also raised thus concerns and asked WHO to propose a way forward to change the name.

Assigning names to new names and, in special circumstances, to existing diseases is the responsibility of WHO under the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

Following a series of consultations with global experts, WHO’s Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom has today recommended for the adoption of the new synonym mpox in English for the disease.

“Mpox will become a preferred term, replacing monkeypox, after a transition period of one year,” the Director-General said on Monday.

“This serves to mitigate the concerns raised by experts about confusion caused by a name change in the midst of a global outbreak.”

The ICD updating process often can take up to several years.

In this case, the WHO says, the process was accelerated, “though following the standard steps.”

The World Health Organisation says it will adopt the term mpox in its communications on the disease declared as a ‘public health emergency of international concern‘ on July 23, 2022.

The agency also “encourages others to follow these recommendations, to minimize any ongoing negative impact of the current name and from adoption of the new name.”

Human monkeypox was given its name in 1970 after the virus that causes the disease was discovered in captive monkeys in 1958 and before the publication of WHO bestpractices in naming diseases, published in 2015.