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WHO expresses concern over mpox outbreak in DR Congo

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A total of 25,318 suspected cases of mpox, including 1,204 deaths, have been reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since the declaration of mpox outbreak in December 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday.

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

“We must prevent the DRC from becoming the source of cross-border transmission, and our partnership must prioritize 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, mpox has become a real public health problem for our communities in the DRC, a regional threat and ultimately a global problem. We must now mobilize to resolve this crisis,” said Roger Kamba, DRC minister of public health, hygiene and prevention, at the meeting.

Mpox, 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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