39,000 Test Kits for Africa – No Single Vaccine Dose, No Antiviral Treatment 
Dr Fiona Braka, Team Lead, Emergency Operations at WHO AFRO

More than a month after declaring Monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), WHO’s Africa Region has only received 39,000 test kits for the virus – while vaccines and treatments remain unavailable on the continent where the disease is endemic and often more deadly.

That was the key message emerging out of a briefing by WHO’s African Regional Office on Thursday by senior WHO officials in the agency’s African Regional Office. 

“Except for a small cohort study in the Central African Republic (CAR), Monkeypox vaccines [and treatments] are not yet available on the continent,” said WHO Regional Director, Matshidiso Moetiotshidiso.  She was referring to the study of the anti-viral treatment Tecovirimat (TPOXX™), which has been ongoing amongst a small group of volunteers in CAR, under the direction of the University of Oxford, the Ministry of Health and SIGA, the drug manufacturer. See the full story here:

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 Dr Fiona Braka, Team Lead, Emergency Operations at WHO AFRO told Health Policy Watch, that in the absence of other tools the continent is relying more on  non-pharmaceutical measures to control the spread of the disease – which seems to be transmitting more intensively person to person in Africa as well as abroad, after decades in which exposure was more limited to people in contact with infected animal populations.

The infection control modalities being put in place, howver, stem from the experience of several countries in the region, such as CAR and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nigeria – that have been experiencing Monkeypox outbreaks since the 1970s. 

The modalities include ensuring that the local communities are aware of the diseases and that they protect themselves and those that are around them, and ensuring that there is no contact to avoid transmission. 

“It is spread by direct skin-to-skin or mouth-to-skin kind of contact. So it’s important that there is separation when it comes to infection. We also ensure that there is adequate surveillance in place to be able to detect these cases rapidly and provide the necessary management. So I think that it’s a collective use of strategies in the African region where vaccines and therapeutics are not very much available,” she said.

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