WHO declares the monkeypox outbreak in more than 50 countries a ‘public health emergency of international concern’.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the monkeypox outbreak in more than 50 countries an “emergency of international concern”. More than 16,500 cases of monkeypox have been reported globally.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the decision to issue the declaration despite a lack of consensus among experts serving on the UN health agency’s emergency committee. It was the first time the chief of the UN health agency has taken such an action.
“We have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly through new modes of transmission about which we understand too little and which meets the criteria in the international health regulations,” Tedros said on Saturday.
“I know this has not been an easy or straightforward process and that there are divergent views among the members” of the committee, he added.
Tedros said there are now more than 16 thousand reported cases from 75 countries and territories, and five deaths.
A global emergency is WHO’s highest level of alert, but the designation does not necessarily mean a disease is particularly transmissible or lethal.
WHO’s emergencies chief, Dr. Michael Ryan, said the director-general made the decision to put monkeypox in that category to ensure the gobal community takes the current outbreak seriously.
The WHO had recently called for “urgent” action to prevent the spread of monkeypox in Europe.
Infections in Europe represent about 90 percent of the global total of cases, and 31 countries in the European region have now identified cases, WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr Hans Henri Kluge said on July 1.
“Today, I am intensifying my call for governments and civil society to scale up efforts … to prevent monkeypox from establishing itself across a growing geographical area,” Kluge said in a statement at the time.
The UN agency estimates that the disease can be fatal, but smallpox vaccines are protective and some antiviral drugs are also being developed.
More to follow…