Monkeypox outbreak declared a Global Health Emergency by WHO

Test tubes labelled "Monkeypox virus positive" are seen in this illustration taken May 22, 2022. (Photo: Reuters/Dado Ruvic)

The fast-growing outbreak of monkeypox constitutes a global health emergency, the highest level of an alert issued by the World Health Organization, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Saturday.

The WHO label - "public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC)" (PHEIC) - is intended to generate a coordinated worldwide response and might release financing for vaccination and treatment collaboration.

Tedros told reporters that an expert group convened on Thursday to examine the prospective suggestion was split on the decision, with nine members opposing and six in favor of the declaration, pushing him to break the impasse.

Tedros told a media briefing in Geneva, "Although I am declaring a public health emergency of international concern, for the moment this is an outbreak that is concentrated among men who have sex with men, especially those with multiple sexual partners,"

"Stigma and discrimination can be as dangerous as any virus," he continued.

He stated that the risk of monkeypox, which spreads through close contact and causes flu-like symptoms and pus-filled skin lesions, was moderate everywhere, except in Europe, where the WHO has classified the risk as high.

According to the White House, the proclamation is a "call to action for the world community to stop the spread of this virus." Raj Panjabi, head of the White House's pandemic preparedness office, stated that a "coordinated, international response is essential" to stop the disease's spread and safeguard those at the highest risk of catching it.

In the past, Tedros has often supported the recommendations of expert committees. Still, two sources told Reuters on Saturday that he had likely opted to keep the highest warning level due to rising incidence rates and a lack of vaccines and treatments.

There have been more than 16,000 cases of monkeypox in more than 75 countries so far this year, including five deaths in Africa.

In the present outbreak, the disease has spread primarily among men who have intercourse with other men outside of Africa, where it is endemic.

Health experts applauded the WHO's move to release the PHEIC statement, which was previously applied only to the coronavirus pandemic and continuing polio eradication efforts.

Lawrence Gostin, professor of law at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., referred to the action as politically courageous, stating that failure to declare an emergency at this time would be a historic missed opportunity.

According to Josie Golding, head of epidemics and epidemiology at the Wellcome Trust, the decision should help curb the viral disease's spread.

"We cannot afford to keep waiting for diseases to escalate before we intervene," she said.

June meeting

Scientists and public health experts have placed considerable pressure on the WHO and national governments to take more action against monkeypox.

Since the committee's initial meeting at the end of June, when there were approximately 3,000 cases, the number of instances of the viral disease has exploded.

The expert committee decided at the moment to review their position on the emergency declaration should the outbreak worsen.

One of the primary concerns that prompted a reevaluation was whether infections might spread to other populations, especially children and other individuals susceptible to the virus during outbreaks in endemic nations.

The United States detected its first two cases of monkeypox in children on Friday.

On Saturday, WHO authorities investigated the likelihood of the virus spreading through novel transmission mechanisms.

Publish : 2022-07-24 08:55:00

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