Health Secretary ‘Take more action on monkeypox or it will turn into an epidemic’

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GBT+ groups from across the political spectrum have joined forces to demand the government step up efforts to fight monkeypox or risk it becoming “endemic” in the UK.

The United States on Thursday declared a public health emergency over the virus – which affects gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM) in most cases seen so far – which has Followed by the World Health Organization calling it last month. A global emergency.

UK health officials have urged calm, but now those inside Westminster have called on Health Secretary Steve Barclay to take action because of the “real fear and anxiety” over monkeypox.

A letter to Mr Barclay, signed by LGBT+ groups for the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Greens and Scottish National, said: “We are united as LGBT+ groups from all political parties and demand That the government treat the monkeypox outbreak as a public health emergency.” The party said.

“We cannot afford to allow monkeypox to become endemic in the UK. Fortunately, we have the tools we need to stop this outbreak and prevent further health risks. We call on you to You do so immediately.

The letter, which was also signed by sexual health charities including the Terence Higgins Trust, said the government should prioritize communication and vaccination.

“We need clear, unvarnished messages, delivered directly to GBMSM about the symptoms of monkeypox and what to do if you suspect you have the virus to inform and reassure people ( but rather the current broadcast-to-all approach which constantly mentions GBMSM. ),” the authors, who included the Tories’ Luke Black and Labour’s Matthew Lloyd, said.

“Messaging should reach communities at high risk of getting monkeypox, through targeted messaging on apps, online and in queer media.

“Vaccinating those most at risk of monkeypox must be a priority if we are to stand a chance of preventing the virus from becoming endemic in the UK,” he added.

Mr Lloyd said separately, “We are very concerned that, while mass vaccination events are a great way to build confidence that vaccination is happening, they can cause inequities, particularly when There is a shortage of jobs.”

“It’s time to get better systems and buy more of this much-needed vaccine.”

The Terence Higgins Trust also called for improvements in vaccination efforts.

The charity’s head of policy, Ceri Smith, said: “We need urgent political action to get a grip on the rapidly increasing number of monkeypox cases in the UK.

“That’s why we’re grateful to LGBT+ groups across political parties who are uniting to demand a public health response that’s commensurate with the size of the problem when gay and bisexual men continue to make up the majority of cases. are

“We need to see much better coordination, increased vaccine procurement, improved delivery and cash injection of sexual health services for monkeypox treatment, STI testing and treatment, provision of PrEP and contraception. It will also reverse the already widespread impact on services.”

The NHS announced late last month that it was stepping up its vaccination program against monkeypox in London as more jobs became available.

Thousands of monkeypox vaccines have already been administered and the NHS is working quickly to invite those most at risk.

Vaccination experts recommend that gay and bisexual men who are at high risk of contracting monkeypox be offered the smallpox vaccine Imvanex.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “Thousands of monkeypox vaccines have already been administered and the NHS is working to rapidly invite those most at risk.

“We have purchased more than 150,000 vaccines, and we are working with partners – including the NHS and the UK Health Security Agency – to share targeted, non-stigmatizing communications with the LGBTQ+ community.

“We are enabling local authorities to invest in essential frontline sexual health services by providing more than £3.4 billion through the Public Health Grant.”