Deaths Surpass Official Count as Monkeypox Continues to Plague the DRC
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, sickness and fatalities associated with the current monkeypox outbreak continue to go unreported as officials claim the official data does not reflect the rate of infection in the country.
Cases of the monkeypox virus, a disease that was first discovered in the DRC 50 years ago, have been on the rise in West and Central Africa for years. It wasn’t until this year when 77,000 people worldwide were infected with the virus, that the illness began to gain international attention.
Europe and the United States, who experienced an outbreak of the monkeypox virus this year, snatched up the few available vaccines as the disease made its way to their borders.
However, the DRC outbreak and the death toll may be substantially higher than reported in official data. The African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) admitted that the actual scope of the outbreak was not adequately represented by its data.
According to CDC data, the DRC has had over 4,000 suspected and confirmed cases as well as 154 deaths this year.
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In other parts of Africa, there are almost 2,000 cases in Nigeria and about 600 suspected and confirmed cases in Ghana.
According to Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, acting director of the Africa CDC, “Yes, there is an undercount, but the CDC could not currently say how big the undercount was.”
While these rates of infection are far less than the 27,000-odd cases reported in the United States and 7,000 in Spain, Africa does not have a publicly accessible monkeypox vaccine.
Poorer nations like the DRC, where the disease has lasted long enough to be endemic, have hardly gotten any supplies from the WHO partners, while the unexpected demand from Western countries swallowed up existing vaccines.
The nation’s health minister, Jean-Jacques Mbungani, stated that testing facilities outside of Kinshasa were limited, but he chose not to comment on cases that were missed. Although no official request had been made, he said that the DRC was in discussions with the WHO about purchasing vaccines.
The vaccination alliance, Gavi, said it had not received any requests from African nations where the virus was endemic.