In the summer, the WHO Director-General declared the escalating mpox outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. While everyone can catch monkeypox, not everyone is at equal risk. People who closely interact with someone who is infectious, including through sexual contact, are at greater risk for infection; particularly sexual partners, but also household members and health workers. Cases have been identified but not limited to communities of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men who have had recent sexual contact with a new partner or partners. 

As it is often the case with public health emergencies such as COVID-19, the impact of mpox has proven to be disproportionate on members of marginalised communities. In this view, NLO has been approached by the WHO Europe Office to share our input on mpox and has developed concrete recommendations, which is now available on our website.

NLO recommends: 

  • Facilitate early identification of cases through ready access to testing care, and treatment. Ensure access to comprehensive treatment and care for those with mpox, including management of other infections. The NLO Service Design Checklist helps service providers, policymakers and community representatives to design targeted and equitable health services;  
  • Public health services should work directly with community-led and community-based organisations in their decision-making to ensure policies and services are fit for purpose; 
  • Increase access to vaccination programmes by prioritising people living in crowded housing, sex workers, men who have sex with men, trans people, and other groups at higher risk. Contact tracing and exposure limitation are among other important measures; 
  • Develop clear, inclusive, non-judgemental and non-stigmatizing communication in prevention and information strategies and actions. Communication strategies should incorporate the use of targeted channels and communities themselves that directly reach marginalized individuals. 
  • Be mindful of the negative impact of criminalisation, stigmatisation and other discrimination on population health.  
  • Improve data collection to inform equitable health efforts. Closely evaluate possible reasons why mpox cases are decreasing, understand the different factors of this development and identify successful measures to be able to answer with a strong public health response to future health emergencies.