DR Congo: Infectious disease experts coordinate efforts against Monkey Pox

In a concerted response to the growing threat of the Monkey Pox virus, also known as simian pox, Africa is mobilizing to strengthen its response. On April 13, nearly 250 experts gathered in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) under the aegis of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Africa (CDC), to develop strategies to stem the spread of this disease in the African region.

The situation is alarming, with over 92,000 human cases reported in more than 110 countries. In 2023, the DRC was one of the hardest-hit countries, recording 14,600 cases and 654 deaths. 

For Professor Jean-Jacques Muyembe, renowned virologist and co-discoverer of the Ebola virus, the urgency of the situation is clear: “Very recently in the DRC, for the first time we observed sexual transmissions of MPOX, and so if we take this sexual, heterosexual transmission, we take the severity, we take the spread of the disease, almost every province is affected. It’s a public health emergency.”

In their fight against the epidemic, the experts pledged to coordinate their efforts in diagnostics, laboratory optimization and vaccine research. 

Dr. Ngashi Ngongo, Chief of Staff and Head of the Africa CDC Executive Office, stresses the need to: “Facilitate the strengthening of preparedness and response capacity to mitigate the impact of Mpox in Africa and beyond, strengthen effective surveillance, national laboratory capacity, rapid epidemic response, and engagement with affected communities.”

WHO is also committed to supporting these efforts, by strengthening surveillance capacity, risk communication and community engagement. 

 Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, says: “We will be working on many aspects of the subject. We will start at the local, national and global level. We are there and we will work with governments to move this agenda forward.”

Every day counts in the fight against Mpox, and there is an urgent need to improve the effectiveness of the response to this epidemic. That’s why the health ministers of 12 African countries have decided to work together to create an action plan to combat Mpox.

The plan includes measures to prevent, detect and control the spread of the disease, protect African populations and ensure a safer, more resilient future for all.