‘Government did nothing’: Mexican, Brazilian monkeypox responses raise concerns

MEXICO CITY, Aug 1 (Reuters) – Francisco’s injuries began after he returned to Mexico City from California in late June: First, two spots on his groin. Then a week later, sores appeared all over her body, her mouth was full of sores, she could barely speak and drink water.

“The pain was indescribable, catastrophic,” Francisco, 44, who asked not to give his real name, told Reuters.

Francisco has been one of at least 59 monkeypox infections in Mexico since May, which experts believe may understate the true number.

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In Latin America, Mexico has the second highest number of confirmed cases of the virus, after Brazil and Peru, which has spread primarily among gay and bisexual men like Francisco.

On July 23, the World Health Organization announced monkeypox as a global health emergency, drawing the attention of regional authorities. But some doctors and activists in Latin America’s two largest countries told Reuters the response was too soft.

“We don’t see the necessary measures being taken and monkeypox being given the attention it needs,” said Dr. Sergio Montalvo, a sexual health specialist in Mexico City.

Doctors like Montalvo worry that authorities have failed to learn the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has crippled health care systems and left governments strapped for cash.

Brazil has more than 970 infections, more than two-thirds of the region’s total, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

Brazil’s Ministry of Health announced the emergency plan on July 28, a month after its first case and a day before reporting the first monkeypox death outside Africa in the current outbreak. read more

Peru reported its first death from monkeypox on Monday, the director of a state hospital told local media.

“We were getting reports of outbreaks in Europe and the United States, but the government didn’t do anything,” said Vinicius Borges, an infectious disease specialist in Sao Paulo. He said monkeypox had a “significant effect” on his patients.

The health ministries of both Mexico and Brazil did not respond to multiple requests for an interview.

Following the World Health Organization’s declaration, Mexico’s Ministry of Health launched a monkeypox website and its second advisory with information about the virus – the first since the country confirmed the disease in May.

“In these two months, we could have made significant progress,” said Ricardo Baruch, an LGBT health researcher who helped organize a protest last week in Mexico City, calling for more efforts to prevent men who have sex with men (MSM). .

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that 98% of ongoing infections outside of Africa are among gay and bisexual men.

Mexican health authorities are concerned about this group.

“They don’t want to create a stigma, but if they don’t talk about it, the policy won’t be directed at us,” Baruch said.

Microbiologist Natalya Pasternak also expressed concern over Brazil’s statement.

“There has been no attempt by the federal government to educate the public about how to get monkeypox, how it spreads from person to person, how you recognize skin lesions and how it can be transmitted through intimate or sexual contact,” Pasternak said.

On July 25, Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga said the Brazilian government had “done its homework” to prepare, saying four laboratories were conducting testing.

“It’s going to take some time to build testing capacity in Brazil,” said Pasternak, a member of the São Paulo state monkeypox advisory board. “We really don’t see any intention of the Ministry of Health to implement this planning.”

In a sign of progress on July 27, PAHO said ten countries in the region are interested in receiving the vaccine.

Dr. Andrea Vicari, PAHO’s director of infectious disease management, said it is not too late to stop the spread of monkeypox in America.

“Even if we don’t have vaccines, we have other control measures. If we do these well, we can achieve our goals of reducing transmission.”

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Reporting and writing by Brendan O’Boyle; Additional reporting by Carolina Pulis and Marco Aquino Editing by Christian Plumb and Nick Zieminski

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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