The mpox outbreak has caused significant concern among healthcare professionals globally. Since the outbreak began, mpox has been reported in more than 25 countries, with over 5000 cases and 190 deaths. The outbreak has been associated with high rates of hospitalisation, severe complications, and death.
Recently, ASHM hosted a webinar titled “Mpox in Asia & The Pacific: Where Are We Now?” which featured experts from national, regional, and global organisations. The panel discussed the mpox response, the outbreak’s impact on various countries, and shared their experiences, challenges, and lessons learned from dealing with the outbreak.
The expert panel included Professor Michael Kidd AM FAHMS, Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Principal Medical Advisor for the Australian Government Dept of Health and Aged Care; Meg Doherty, Director of the Department of Global HIV, Hepatitis and STIs Programmes WHO; Claire Dewsnap, President of the British Association for Sexual Health & HIV; Arm (Siripong Srichau), Campaign Officer at APCOM; and Rick Varma Sexual Health & HIV Physician, Sydney Sexual Health Centre. The event was co-chaired by Cherie Bennett, clinical nurse specialist at Sydney Sexual Health Centre, and Dr Nick Medland, ASHM Board President and sexual health physician.
The panel discussed the current state of the mpox outbreak and shared insights into the response with a focus on case studies from the UK, Thailand, and Australia.
Presentations emphasised the importance of collaboration between healthcare workers, researchers, scientists, and communities to ensure equitable and effective approaches, drawing on lessons from the successful response to HIV.
The panel also addressed recent data on severe mpox manifestations in people living with HIV, particularly for countries with high undiagnosed HIV rates – further highlighting the need for HIV testing and immediate access to treatment for those who test positive.
In Australia, Professor Michael Kidd praised the medical community for their responsiveness and proactive approach, including in the vaccination response. He highlighted the success of strong engagement between public health officials and peak community organisations representing at-risk population groups. He also emphasised the importance of remaining vigilant and preparing for any potential outbreaks in the future.
“The hallmark of the success of our response to mpox… has been strong engagement between public health officials and our peak community organisations, especially those representing at-risk population groups.”
“I think it’s really important, even though we’ve only had one case in Australia over the last five months, that we continue to think about ‘could this be mpox,’ as we’ve heard mpox is still occurring in countries all around the world. And it is possible that the very next person who comes into your consulting room, the symptoms they’re presenting with could be mpox. So please keep your antenna twigged and let’s continue to make sure that we nip in the bud any potential outbreaks of community transmission in Australia.”
The webinar was an opportunity for experts to share their experiences and insights into the mpox outbreak and provided a platform for attendees to ask questions and gain a better understanding of the outbreak’s impact on various countries. The lessons learned from the webinar will help healthcare professionals better prepare and respond to any future outbreaks. You can watch the full webinar recording here.