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WHO expresses concern over monkey pox outbreak in DR Congo

25,318 suspected cases of monkey pox, including 1,204 deaths, have been reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since the declaration of monkey pox outbreak in December 2022.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday.

According to the latest report, the outbreak, which was declared by the DRC Health Ministry on Dec. 16, 2022, was prompted by a notable surge in cases and fatalities associated with monkey pox as well as a fast spread to non-endemic provinces.

Since the beginning of 2024, a total of 5,133 suspected cases, including 321 deaths, have been reported, according to the WHO report. It warns that the current situation of the outbreak in the DRC is of “grave concern” due to the sustained increase in suspected cases compared to previous years.

It added that with a significant burden in younger populations, particularly children under 15 years of age, who constitute the majority of both suspected cases and deaths.

In April 2024, a high-level emergency regional meeting on monkey pox in Africa was convened in DRC capital Kinshasa, gathering 12 health ministers of regional countries, aiming to develop common strategies to prevent and intervene effectively in the face of monkey pox in Africa.

“We must prevent the DRC from becoming the source of cross-border transmission, and our partnership must prioritise the health of those affected,’’ said Jean Kaseya, the director general of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) at the meeting.

“Over the years, monkey pox has become a real public health problem for our communities in the DRC, a regional threat and ultimately a global problem.

“We must now mobilise to resolve this crisis,” said Roger Kamba, DRC minister of public health, hygiene and prevention, said at the meeting.

Monkey pox, first detected in laboratory monkeys in 1958, is assumed to be transmitted from wild animals such as rodents to people or from human to human

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