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Dr. Leo Zekeng, Director and Representative of UNAIDS in Nigeria, shared how lessons from the AIDS response are being applied to monkeypox.

Dr. Zekeng said:

“Monkey pox is endemic in Nigeria and there has been a significant increase in suspected and confirmed cases in recent weeks. The latest published situation report from the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) (7 August 2022) shows that more than 473 suspected cases of monkeypox have been reported in 2022 (407 of which since 30 May), of which 172 were confirmed (151). of them from May 30). In the latest weekly data published (August 1-7), there were 60 suspected cases in one week, of which 15 were confirmed.

The Nigerian government, civil society organizations, development partners and the UN are working together to respond to the increasing number of suspected and confirmed monkeypox cases in Nigeria. On 26 May 2022, the Nigerian Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) launched the National Multidisciplinary Monkey Pox Emergency Operations Center to strengthen and coordinate the country’s ongoing response while contributing to the global response.

The lessons we learned in the fight against AIDS also apply to the fight against monkeypox. The fight against monkeypox in Nigeria is affected by both social stigma and global inequities in access to essential medicines, including vaccines.

Local staff in the worst-hit states said the stigma attached to comments from around the world blaming gay people for monkeypox was preventing some people from seeking help. Local staff report that there have been situations where people have been too afraid to seek medical care because of the stigma. Public health officials are working to ensure that clinic staff are educated to eliminate such stigma, not increase it. State Department of Health officials are also beginning to educate the public about monkeypox, emphasizing symptoms, prevention and screening.

Shortages of essential medicines are also holding back Nigeria’s response to monkeypox. It is necessary to promote the expansion of supplies of medicines, equipment, and materials for collecting samples. Unlike the US and the EU, Nigeria has no supply of monkeypox vaccines. This leaves people in the affected areas feeling disillusioned that the world has left them behind. This inequity in access to vaccines and other key medicines urgently needs to be remedied by sharing doses, production rights and know-how.

Supporting efforts to combat stigma and ensure access to essential medicines is key to ensuring that everyone affected by monkeypox in Nigeria receives the care they need. Supporting the response in Nigeria is critical to the success of the global response.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

This press release was published by APO. The content is not under the editorial control of African Business and the content has not been checked or verified by our editorial teams, proofreaders or fact-checkers. The issuer is solely responsible for the content of this message.

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