It was reported on Monday that France has recorded about 1,700 infections of monkeypox. According to Reuters, the French government has vaccinated over 6,000 people and has opened around 100 vaccination centers focused on combating monkeypox.
Minister of Health, Francois Braun, told BFM TV on Monday that the government would muster up “extra support” for the vaccination campaign, including training medical students to administer vaccines, according to France 24. “We have easily enough doses for the populations who are the most at risk from this illness,” he added.
Expanding on this, Braun further noted that “the profile [of the patients] is that they are mainly men who have had sexual relations with other men, but one can also be infected by contact with a patient’s blisters,” adding that most of the infections had taken place in the Paris region, where a major vaccination center is scheduled to open in the coming days.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported on the 23rd that the monkeypox outbreak constitutes a global health emergency, their highest level of alert. This is in response to the more than 16,000 cases of monkeypox recorded in more than 75 countries this year, and 5 deaths in Africa, where the disease has been classified as endemic since its discovery in 1970, according to Reuters and NBC. Cases have been steadily rising since May, according to NBC.
Speaking to the media in Geneva, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyseus said that “although I am declaring a public health emergency of international concern, for the moment this is an outbreak that is concentrated among men who have had sex with men, especially those with multiple sexual partners,” according to Reuters.
When speaking to France 24, Inter-LGBT, a larger umbrella group for 50 French LGBT organizations, said there has “been a lack of preparation and transparency from the government” in regards to the campaign against monkeypox and its interactions with the LGBT community.
So far, the response of the French government to this global health emergency has been seemingly well thought-out, with the lessons from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic clearly being applied in the rapid response of the French government and WHO to this public health crisis. Thus far, the government and global health bodies have, in general, communicated the severity of the global health issue while also focusing on the populations most at risk for contracting the viral disease – in this case, men who have had sex with other men.
However, the French government must ramp up its vaccination efforts, which have been criticized both as too slow and also in regards to some people who desired the vaccine as being unable to access it. The French government has a responsibility to its population to ensure their continued health to the best of its ability, which in this case includes properly distributing the vaccine and also effectively communicating with those who are most at risk for contracting the disease that they should take it as soon as possible.
In conclusion, while the response of the French government and WHO has generally been effective, it is important for policymakers to learn the lessons of the Covid-19 pandemic and the earlier AIDS crisis in order to ensure that the most vulnerable populations to various public health crises are effectively educated on the crisis and the proper steps to take in response to their risk factor.
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