The Green Party is calling on the Government to listen to public health experts and commit to an elimination strategy for monkeypox.
“The Green Party backs the recommendations of a recent open letter to the Prime Minister and calls on the Government to commit to an elimination approach to monkeypox in Aotearoa and to put in place a plan to achieve it that prioritises the needs of Rainbow communities,” says the Green Party’s spokesperson for health, Dr. Elizabeth Kerekere.
“The global outbreak of monkeypox arrived in Aotearoa in early July. While we have only three confirmed cases right now, we know from our experience with COVID-19 how quickly infection can spread unless control measures are put in place.
“If our response to the first outbreak of COVID-19 taught us anything it is that going hard and going early works. We have to do the same with monkeypox. That means taking the path of caution in the face of uncertainty, and looking after all members of our communities while doing so. An elimination approach is the best and only way to protect people’s health.
“We have the tools and the knowledge we need to ensure monkeypox never starts to spread in Aotearoa New Zealand, including world class contract tracing and border testing capacity. Putting these tools to use early will be essential for protecting people’s health, particularly our Rainbow whānau.
“Most monkeypox infections recorded overseas have so far been spread as a result of sexual contact, particularly among gay and bisexual men. We are deeply worried about the health risk this presents to Rainbow communities. There is a painful history of discrimination and stigma towards Rainbow people when health issues like this arise and steps must be taken to prevent it happening again.
“The Government must support Rainbow leadership so they can work with their communities in the ways only they know how. This will help make sure people receive evidence-based communications and advice about how to keep themselves safe, including, for example, the use of smallpox vaccines, which we know works, and other baseline protections,” says Dr. Elizabeth Kerekere.
The specific measures the Green Party is calling on the Government to introduce to help eliminate monkeypox include:
- Making use of the excellent contract tracing and border testing capacity from COVID-19 to prevent monkeypox becoming widespread.
- Using ring vaccination to prevent onward exposure while vaccination stocks are increased enough to allow preventative vaccination of groups more at risk of exposure.
- Working with the most affected communities on strategies for communication and rollout of vaccines and other public health measures, to ensure all messaging enhances equity and promotes an effective response. This must include Rainbow whānau