Monkeypox spreads in Mexico without vaccination or prevention campaigns
By Diana Higareda
Despite 252 new cases of contagion of the monkeypox virus registered from January to May this year, the government of Mexican President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador has not delivered any vaccination or started prevention campaigns against this disease. One year after the first case was reported in Mexico, health specialists accuse the authorities of neglecting vulnerable populations in favor of other priorities. Meanwhile, the number of infections keeps rising.
New cases keep rising, while vaccination and prevention are still lacking
According to the epidemiological bulletin of the Health Secretary, only from January to May 2022, 252 new cases of contagion of the virus were registered. There were 3,637 accumulated cases in Mexico at the end of 2022. Specialists warn that there may be as many as 15,000 unreported cases, owing to insufficient testing and social stigma attached to the illness.
Alaín Pinzón, general director of HIVve Free, explains, “Currently, we are receiving approximately one case every 15 days. Unfortunately, many people stopped taking the sample because the State could not offer more than carrying out the test.”
Vulnerable populations and political neglect affecting vaccination campaigns
Health specialists and organizations such as People LGBT and HIVve Free accuse the government of neglecting vulnerable populations due to political issues and discrimination, targeting men who have sex with other men, the primary population most affected by monkeypox. They also claim that budget concerns prioritize megaprojects over public health concerns.
Alaín Pinzón explains, “We have heard it from the Chamber of Deputies, the Senate of the Republic, people in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and people close to Lopez-Gatell. These are things that are not confirmed, but it is what is heard most often when we ask why, so far, there is no vaccine.”
No vaccination recommended despite increasing cases
Despite experts recommending the purchase of vaccination as a containment measure against monkeypox, Mexico still has not inoculated its citizens. Even the Undersecretary of Health, Hugo Lopez-Gatell, along with 13 specialists, recommended vaccination as a containment measure. An article published on November 9, 2022, highlighted the need for containment measures to include reliable information and targeted vaccination of groups most at risk of infection.
In contrast, countries such as Chile, El Salvador, and Peru acquired the vaccine against monkeypox last year, and according to health researchers, Mexico has done nothing for prevention or treatment while denying vaccination.
Homophobic attitudes may contribute to lack of vaccination
Health researchers accuse the authorities of a homophobic attitude since they have excluded vulnerable populations, left people out of the guidelines for the vaccine against the Human Papilloma Virus, and reduced access to the Hepatitis B vaccine. Also, the detection of HIV is going down by the State, which sends a signal of exclusion and marginalization.
Alaín Pinzón underscores this, stating, “This sends a deeply homophobic message from the Health authorities.”
Despite the number of monkeypox cases steadily rising, the government of Mexico has not taken concrete steps to prevent the spread of this disease. Specialists accuse the authorities of neglecting vulnerable populations due to political issues, and homophobia may also have contributed to the reluctance to buy vaccines. Health researchers warn that advanced treatment opportunities, such as targeted vaccinations, must be implemented immediately to prevent the spread of monkeypox.