Monkeypox rebranded ‘mpox’ as World Health Organisation labels the term racist and stigmatising

28 November 2022, 13:04

World Health Organising rebrand Monkeypox as mpox
World Health Organising rebrand Monkeypox as mpox. Picture: LBC / Alamy

By Danielle DeWolfe

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced the rebranding of the Monkeypox disease to ‘mpox’ following criticism that the term was both racist and stigmatising.

WHO has said the old term will be used alongside the new name for a period of one year, before eventually being phased out.

"Both names will be used simultaneously for one year while 'monkeypox' is phased out," said the World Health Organisation in a statement.

The news comes after extensive consultations with the public, health experts and global government agencies, WHO says.

As part of their consultation, a host of farcical names were also submitted, including 'Poxy McPoxface' - a nod to the British polar research vessel Sir David Attenborough, which initially saw the public choose 'Boaty McBoat Face' as its name.

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Monkeypox is set to be rebranded mpox
Monkeypox is set to be rebranded mpox. Picture: Alamy / mauritius images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

The disease's name change to mpox was initially proposed by men's health organisation REZO, who added the removal of monkey imagery would lead people to take the disease more seriously.

WHO guidance on naming stresses the need to minimise unnecessary negative effects on trade, travel, tourism and animal welfare, also noting the need to avoid causing offence to any cultural, social, national or ethnic groups.

The Monkeypox virus was first identified in 1958, after initially being discovered in captive monkeys.

According to WHO data, 110 countries have reported more than 80,000 confirmed cases and 55 deaths since the human variant was discovered.

Although mpox symptoms vary, the main symptoms include a rash, chills, high fever, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion and headache

The UK has seen 3,500 reported cases of the disease since May, with cases decreasing steadily since the July peak and subsequent vaccination of the most at risk.

The most affected group were men who had sex with men.

Over the past 12 months, mpox has been identified in 29 countries across Europe, as well as the US, Canada and Australia, prompting an upsurge in demand for a vaccine.