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Letter Published in Lancet Regional Health - Americas Urges Top Ministry of Health Officials in Mexico to Authorize MPOX Vaccine Use

Public health researchers and activists speak out through a letter published in the Lancet Regional Health – Americas, to urge Ministry of Health (MOH) Officials of Mexico to follow World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines and authorize the use of the Monkeypox (MPOX) vaccine in Mexico. The letter addresses concerns over the current outbreak of MPOX in Mexico and emphasizes the importance of taking action to contain its spread.

Jorge Saavedra, M.D., M.P.H., M.Sc.

University of Miami based Jorge Saavedra and Guilherme Faviero, together with two public health activists from Mexico, Ricardo Baruch and Alain Pinzon, responded to a recent study published in the Lancet Regional Health - Americas, where authors highlighted the need for containment measures to address the spread of MPOX infection in Mexico.

During most of 2023, Mexico reported the highest number of global daily cases of monkeypox and ranks among the top ten countries with the most cumulative cases. According to the authors, it is also the only of the top-most affected countries that has zero plans to start using the MPOX vaccine, in line with recommendations from WHO, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the European Medicines Agency.

“With over 3,928 officially reported cases of MPOX in Mexico to date, and the recent declaration by WHO of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, the MPOX vaccine has not been authorized for use in the country,” said Dr. Saavedra, M.D., M.P.H., M.Sc., Voluntary Associate Professor, in the Department of Public Health Sciences. “This raises concern, and there is a need for public health officials to act accordingly.”

Despite endorsing the targeted use of the MPOX vaccine in the original study, authors of the study – most of whom are top-level MOH officials responsible for setting MPOX policies in Mexico – have been reluctant to publicly support the authorization of the MPOX vaccine inside Mexico.

“The authors should account as to why they would endorse the use of vaccines to an international audience of health professionals but fail to take action as policy-makers in their own country,” said Guilherme Faviero, J.D., M.S., M.P.H., staff member of AHF Global Public Health Institute.

A Call to Action

Among the authors of the study is the country’s vice-minister of health, Hugo López-Gatell. These top-level decision-makers are responsible for setting policies related to the national MPOX response in Mexico, including the power to influence the authorization and availability of the MPOX vaccine to higher-risk groups.

Guilherme Faviero, J.D., M.S., M.P.H.

“The purpose of this letter is not to question the authors' methodology or findings, but to emphasize the importance of using their power as public health decision-makers in Mexico, to help contain the spread of MPOX in the country,” said Dr. Saavedra, who is also Executive Director at Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Global Public Health Institute at the University of Miami.

Dr. Saavedra and Faviero aim to encourage the authors to take action to authorize the use of the MPOX vaccine in Mexico. They hope that their letter will serve as a call to action and inspire them to take the necessary steps to protect the health and well-being of the population – in accordance with the author’s own recommendations in the Lancet Regional Health – Americas study.

“Mexico is in need of an MPOX vaccine. The MOH is in a position to make the vaccine available to those at higher risk of infection,” concluded Dr. Saavedra.

Written by Deycha Torres Hernández
Published on March 15, 2023