The World Health Organization (WHO) has praised Ireland for its efforts in controlling the country’s mpox outbreak.
There were 227 confirmed cases of mpox, formerly known as monkeypox, in Ireland in 2022, but only one known case of the virus has been identified in the country so far in 2023. The community engagement campaign and vaccination efforts led by MPOWER are largely responsible for this success.
WHO recognised MPOWER for raising awareness about mpox, educating key affected populations about symptoms and testing, and promoting the vaccine programme.
Ireland has recorded no new #mpox cases last week for the first time since the outbreak began in May.
Our community should be proud of its rapid response — we mobilised to inform & support and advocated hard for access and uptake of vaccine.
It’s not over yet but this is a win! pic.twitter.com/el32NKOh1f
— Adam Shanley (@Adlers1) December 21, 2022
In 2022, WHO identified monkeypox as a public health emergency when 53,000 cases were detected in 75 countries. After early cases of the virus were detected in the UK and Portugal, Ireland assembled a national crisis management team.
MPOWER was selected to be part of this initiative since it regularly designs and implements programs to help reduce sexually transmitted infections within the LGBTQ+ community.
The organisation worked closely with Man2Man to create an effective messaging campaign to inform impacted communities about mpox risks. The community outreach programme targeted those populations who were at the highest risk for the virus, including gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM).
In May and June 2022, volunteers distributed mpox flyers to bars and clubs throughout Ireland. MPOWER also published information about mpox risks and symptoms on dating apps like Grindr and encouraged those eligible to access the vaccine, which included two doses administered 28 days apart.
The campaign was incredibly successful, and the vaccine programme greatly contributed to the decline in cases.
Adam Shanley, MPOWER Programme Manager, said, “The UK, our closest neighbour, was an epicentre for the mpox outbreak and yet we were able to maintain relatively low numbers in comparison.”
The mpox vaccination appointments will close at the end of March.
While Ireland’s cases are well under control right now, MPOWER is aware that a resurgence is possible as the summer travel months approach, especially considering that new outbreaks are still being identified throughout Europe and South America. The team is currently collaborating with epidemiologists and health service teams to better understand current perceptions about mpox, which will determine their next steps in the campaign.
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