Health experts warn govt over monkeypox

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Itai Rusike

BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA/ PRIDE MZARABANI
HEALTH experts have warned government to be on high alert following the recent World Health Organisation (WHO) announcement of heightened cases of monkeypox globally as the local public health system is in intensive care.

Monkeypox is an infection caused by a virus in the same family as the smallpox virus.

It is transmitted to humans through close contact with an infected person or animal, or with material contaminated with the virus.

It is far less severe than smallpox, though it causes a similar illness that involves flu-like symptoms and a rash accompanied by lesions.

Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike said government should strengthen surveillance and increase awareness of the virus.

“Government should work with other health stakeholders in providing education, information and awareness campaigns on monkeypox instead of the current situation where people are relying on social media platforms and their peers risking the rise in misinformation and disinformation just like what happened with COVID-19,” he said.

“Government needs to urgently respond to the WHO declaration of monkeypox as a public health emergency of international concern. The urgent call issued by WHO is as a result of an escalation of monkeypox cases representing a global threat.

“The only way the struggling public health delivery services in Zimbabwe can stop and manage the monkeypox outbreak is by strengthening our surveillance and monitoring systems.

Medical and Dental Private Practitioners Association of Zimbabwe president Johannes Marisa echoed similar sentiments.

“For sure, monkeypox seems to be moving across the entire world. Zimbabwe can succeed with public health measures like masking up, hand washing and sanitisation and vaccinations, but will face challenges on therapeutics as we have limited resources at the moment coupled with a massive brain drain in the health sector,” Marisa
said.

He noted that there was no need for restrictions on travelling because monkeypox has been prevalent in Africa for 51 years since 1971 when the first case was discovered in then Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Contacted for comment, Health deputy minister John Mangwiro directed questions to chief director of curative services, Maxwell Hove, who directed questions to the ministry’s public relations department, where a response could not be obtained.

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