HEALTH | Monkeypox declared a global public health emergency

HEALTH | Monkeypox declared a global public health emergency

The World Health Organization has declared Monkeypox a global health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) following a surge in cases. At the conclusion of the second meeting of the WHO's emergency committee on the virus, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus told a media briefing that "The global monkeypox outbreak represents a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)."  

The WHO Director-General said more than 16,000 cases have now been reported from 75 countries. There had been five deaths so far as a result of the outbreak.

Dr Tedros said the emergency committee had previously been unable to reach a consensus on whether the Monkeypox outbreak should be classified as a global health emergency, but with the outbreak spreading around the world rapidly, decided that it was indeed of international concern.

He said the declaration will help speed up the development of vaccines and implementation of measures to limit the spread of the virus.

The WHO has also issued recommendations which it hopes will spur member countries to take action to stop transmission of the virus and protect those most at risk.

Just last month, the WHO emergency committee decided the outbreak was not privy to being a public health emergency of international concern. At that time, about 3,000 monkeypox cases had been reported in 47 countries, according to WHO data. . 

Overall, the virus is considered “moderate” globally, but with its highest, most concerning outbreak currently in Europe. The continent has reported more than 80% of confirmed infections worldwide in 2022. 

In Africa, there have been five reported deaths from monkeypox this year.

The U.S. recently reported its first two cases of monkeypox in children, with more than 2,900 confirmed cases in the U.S., according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This is the seventh event declared a PHEIC by the global health agency since 2007.

Dr Tedros said the outbreak is largely among men who have sex with men, who have reported having sex recently with new or multiple partners.

The other six include the H1N1 influenza pandemic of 2009; the Ebola outbreak in West Africa from 2013 to 2015; the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 2018 to 2020; the Zika outbreak in 2016; the ongoing spread of poliovirus that started in 2014; and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to the National Library of Medicine.

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