The World Health Organization (WHO) is working with experts to officially rename monkeypox due to concerns regarding the stigma and racism associated with the virus's "discriminatory" term.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced Tuesday morning that the organization was "working with partners and experts from around the world on changing the name of monkeypox virus, its clades [strains] and the disease it causes."
Mr. Ghebreyesus stated that the WHO would release the new names as quickly as feasible.
The decision was made less than a week after more than thirty worldwide experts wrote in a position paper that an "urgent need" was "non-discriminatory and non-stigmatizing nomenclature for monkeypox virus."
On its website, the WHO currently identifies two monkeypox strains or "clades" of the virus: the West African clade and the Congo Basin (Central African) clade.
According to a group of scientists from Africa and throughout the world, this is deceptive and false, similar to many prior geographical classifications of infectious diseases based on the area of their first identification.
In their proposal, they proposed a new categorization of monkeypox that conforms with best practices for naming infectious illnesses in a manner that "minimizes unnecessary negative impacts on nations, geographic regions, economies and people and considers the evolution and spread of the virus."
Mr. Ghebreyesus announced on Tuesday that he would convene an emergency committee on June 23 because the virus has recently exhibited "unusual" behavior by spreading to nations outside of Africa, where it is endemic.
"We believe that it needs also some coordinated response because of the geographic spread," he told reporters.
This year, more than 1,600 confirmed and nearly 1,500 suspected cases were recorded in 39 countries, including seven countries where the virus has been recognized for years.
No deaths have been reported in newly impacted nations, including the United States, Britain, Canada, Italy, Poland, and Spain. A total of 72 deaths have been reported.