The World Health Organization (WHO) has decided to use the preferred term “mpox” as a replacement for monkeypox after consulting with experts around the world. For the next year, both terms will be used interchangeably before “monkeypox” is finally abandoned.
According to WHO, as monkeypox spread earlier this year, reports of racist and stigmatizing rhetoric surfaced online, in other venues, and in certain communities, and were relayed to WHO. The World Health Organization (WHO) was asked to propose a course of action to alter the name after multiple individuals and governments voiced their disapproval in public and private meetings.
As part of the ICD update procedure, WHO consulted with a wide variety of professionals and also solicited input from governments and the general public by asking for proposed name changes. WHO has made the following suggestions based on these talks with members and with WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus:
After a year of transition, “mpox” will replace “monkeypox” as the preferred name. This helps allay the fears of experts who were worried that a name change during a global pandemic would generate chaos. It also buys time for the World Health Organization to revise its publications and the International Classification of Diseases to finish its update.
In the next several days, mpox will join the online version of the ICD-10 as a synonym. It will be incorporated into ICD-11, the official version of which is scheduled for publication in 2023. ICD-11 is currently the gold standard for health information collection, clinical recording, and statistical aggregation worldwide.
To maintain consistency with previous records, “monkeypox” will continue to be a searchable term in ICD.
In most cases, updating the ICD can take a long period of time. In this instance, the process was sped up while still adhering to the usual procedures. Language adaptation of the new moniker was a hot topic of debate. In other languages, mpox is the favored term. The same procedure will be used if any more naming concerns emerge. Official meetings are held with government agencies and allied scientific organizations to discuss translations.
The World Health Organization (WHO) plans to use the term “mpox” in its communications and invites others to do the same in order to lessen the harmful effects of both the old and new names.