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Monkeypox Africa CDC Concern

FILE PHOTO: An employee of the vaccine company Bavarian Nordic in a laboratory of the company in Martinsried near Munich, Germany. The company is the only one in the world to have approval for a smallpox vaccine which is also effective against monkeypox., May 24, 2022.

Africa has documented 1,597 suspected cases of monkeypox since the start of 2022, of which 66 have been fatal, the acting director of Africa's top public health agency Ahmed Ogwell Ouma said on Thursday.

"Our position is that vaccination is an important tool and needs to start here in Africa," Ahmed Ogwell Ouma said during a weekly briefing by the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The disease has not yet been contained on the continent, he said, adding that when a smallpox vaccination campaign starts to contain monkeypox worldwide it should begin in Africa.

"Here... the burden is larger, the risk higher and the geographical spread is also broader," he said.

African countries that have reported confirmed cases are Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Congo Republic, the Democratic Repubic of Congo, Nigeria, Morocco, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Ouma said.

The World Health Organization is due to convene an emergency committee next week to assess whether the monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern.

Monkeypox is endemic in parts of Africa. More than 30 countries where the viral disease is not endemic have reported outbreaks this year, most of them in Europe.