Monkeypox: Govt should increase surveillance

The report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) that cases of monkeypox have now been detected in 20 countries should raise concern.. Photo/ Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

What you need to know:

The issue: 
Monkeypox surveillance. 

Our view:  
It’s important that the ministry intensifies testing, and have clear strategies to avoid or minimise the infiltration of monkeypox at the moment when Ugandans are recovering from Covid-19.

The report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) that cases of monkeypox have now been detected in 20 countries should raise concern.
Monkeypox, although not more transmissible than Covid-19, has a higher chance of causing severe disease and killing the infected persons, according to the WHO statistics. 
WHO said the death rates range from three to 10 percent depending on the variant of the monkeypox. This means the disease is more deadly than Covid-19 which has had fatality rate of around two percent in Uganda, according to the data from the Ministry of Health. 

Health experts say the fatality rate of monkeypox is higher in Africa than in developed countries because of low quality of medical care. 
Moreover, WHO said the medicine and vaccine approved for treating and preventing monkeypox are there but scientists in Uganda and other African countries say the remedies have largely not reached Africa where the disease has been infecting and killing people for years. This is the same experience with Covid-19 where African countries experienced delays in accessing the life-saving jabs. 

In this fresh outbreak of monkeypox, the initial cases were reported in European countries, America and Australia, but the latest report that United Arab Emirates has been added to the list is even more concerning. 
Ministry of Health and Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) have said they are on high alert. But the specific information from UVRI virologist, Dr Julius Lutwama, that the country is not yet testing for monkeypox virus because of lack of reagents leaves many questions around the said ‘high alert.’ 

Ministry of Health said they have asked their personnel at border points, especially those at DR Congo border, to screen those entering the country. The ministry said a research done earlier in western Uganda found that some people have antibodies against monkeypox, meaning they were exposed to the virus.
It’s important that the ministry intensifies testing, and have clear strategies to avoid or minimise the infiltration of monkeypox at the moment when Ugandans are recovering from Covid-19. 
Government should also review and determine whether or not to vaccinate those who didn’t get smallpox vaccines which WHO said offers protection against monkeypox. 
The smallpox vaccine was administered in Uganda in 1980s, according to UVRI. The smallpox vaccine could have played an important role in keeping people safe from monkeypox. 


The issue: 
Monkeypox surveillance. 

Our view:  
It’s important that the ministry intensifies testing, and have clear strategies to avoid or minimise the infiltration of monkeypox at the moment when Ugandans are recovering from Covid-19.

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