African journalists regret use of photos of Blacks to depict monkeypox

Media outlets using images of Blacks to depict outbreaks outside Africa

Andrew Wasike   | 22.05.2022
African journalists regret use of photos of Blacks to depict monkeypox


Leading media outlets, mainly in North America and Europe, are using images of Black people alongside stories of the monkeypox outbreak, which is disturbing to Africans.

The Foreign Press Association, Africa (FPAA), a Pan African organization non-profit membership organization of journalists covering Africa for the international media in Africa registered its displeasure in a statement, noting the media should be on the frontline fighting systemic racism and racial stereotypes by sharing positive images and narratives.

“It is therefore disturbing for European and North American media outlets to use stock images bearing persons with dark/black and African skin complexion to depict an outbreak of the disease in the United Kingdom and North America,” said FPAA.

“If you are talking about the outbreak of Monkeypox in Europe or the Americas, you should use images from hospitals across Europe or the Americas? Or in the absence of such use a collection of electron micrographs with labelled subcellular structures,” it said.

The group said it condemns the perpetuation of the negative stereotype that assigns calamity to the African race and privilege or immunity to other races.

It urged editorial managers based outside Africa to update their image policies and censure their staff from the allure of using images of Africans, people of African descent or people living in Africa to depict outbreaks of diseases or any calamities.

Africans have taken to social media platforms of top media outlets to register their displeasure with the images of black people being used outside the continent to depict a disease that is not affecting most countries on the continent.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), currently, there are 12 countries confirmed to have monkeypox. They are in nine European countries, Australia, the US and Canada, and more than 50 suspected additional cases are being investigated.

Monkeypox, a viral zoonotic disease that occurs primarily in tropical rainforest areas in Central and West Africa, is caused by the monkeypox virus and typically presents clinically with fever, a rash and swollen lymph nodes and may lead to a range of medical complications.

Symptoms last from two to four weeks and the case fatality ratio has been around 3-6%. according to the WHO.

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