Eight African countries are among 39 nations globally that have reported a total of 1,900 confirmed cases of monkeypox, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti on Saturday said that six out of the eight countries have previously reported cases of the viral disease.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, accounts for most of the cases with 36, followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo with 10 and eight in Central African Republic. Benin and Cameroon have reported three cases each and the Republic of Congo has reported two confirmed cases.
The two countries which have no history of recorded cases are Ghana and Morocco and have reported five cases and one case, respectively.
Additionally, there are seven countries which have reported suspected cases of monkeypox despite having previously not having any incidences. They are: Ethiopia, Guinea, Liberia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Uganda.
“This is clearly an unusual situation that is affecting more and more countries,” Moeti said, adding that better preparations needed to be in place for the continent to avoid the inequalities experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic response.
“As WHO in Africa, we are already ramping up support to countries to urgently increase testing capacity for monkeypox and are in the process of procuring thousands of tests for the continent.”
Moeti said that a newer and safer smallpox vaccine had been approved for the prevention of monkeypox but the UN health agency was not recommending mass vaccination at the moment.
Moeti, however, cautioned that the continent must to be ready to act should the need arise.
“Global stocks are extremely limited at this stage but we are working closely with member states and partners on a coordination mechanism to ensure fair access to both vaccines and treatment.”
Moeti’s warning comes days before the WHO convenes an Emergency Committee to advise on whether the current spread of monkeypox in non-endemic countries constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.
(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)