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World Health Organization To Rename 'monkeypox' To 'mpox'

The World Health Organization (WHO) has decided rename "monkeypox" to a new preferred term "mpox" as a synonym for monkeypox following a series of consultations with global experts. Both names will be used simultaneously for one year while "monkeypox" is phased out after that period.

This decision was taken after the WHO observed racist and stigmatizing language online, in other settings and in some communities, during the outbreak of monkeypox earlier in the year. A number of individuals and countries raised concerns and asked WHO to propose a way forward to change the name.

Human monkeypox was given its name in 1970 (after the virus that causes the disease was discovered in captive monkeys in 1958), before the publication of WHO best practices in naming diseases, published in 2015.

According to these best practices, new disease names should be given with the aim to minimize unnecessary negative impact of names on trade, travel, tourism or animal welfare, and avoid causing offence to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional or ethnic groups.

Usually, the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) updating process can take up to several years. In this case, the process was accelerated, though following the standard steps.

The synonym mpox will be included in the ICD-10 online in the coming days. It will be a part of the official 2023 release of ICD-11, which is the current global standard for health data, clinical documentation and statistical aggregation.

The term "monkeypox" will remain a searchable term in ICD, to match historic information.

WHO will adopt the term mpox in its communications, and encourages others to follow these recommendations, to minimize any ongoing negative impact of the current name and from adoption of the new name.

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