The rapid spread of monkeypox and its outbreak represents a global health emergency, the World Health Organization said on Saturday. So far this year, there have been more than 16,000 cases of monkeypox in more than 60 countries, and five deaths in Africa.
The viral disease — which spreads via close contact and tends to cause flu-like symptoms and pus-filled skin lesions — has been spreading chiefly in men who have sex with men in the recent outbreak outside Africa, where it is endemic.
What is a global health emergency?
The WHO label — a “public health emergency of international concern”– is the organization’s highest level of alert. The announcement is aimed to sound an alarm that a coordinated international response is needed. This can unlock funding and global efforts to collaborate on sharing vaccines and treatments.
What did the WHO say?
Announcing his decision to declare the health emergency during a media briefing in Geneva, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the following:
➡️”WHO’s assessment is that the risk of monkeypox is moderate globally and in all regions, except in the European region where we assess the risk as high.”
➡️”There is a clear risk of further international spread, although the risk of interference with international traffic remains low for the moment.”
➡️ “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.”
What has WHO recommended?
Tedros announced a set of recommendations for four groups of countries
🔴 First, those that have not yet reported a case of monkeypox, or have not reported a case for more than 21 days.
🔴 Second, those with recently imported cases of monkeypox and that are experiencing human-to-human transmission. This includes recommendations to implement a coordinated response to stop transmission and protect vulnerable groups.
🔴 The third group of countries is those with transmission of monkeypox from animals to humans.
🔴 And the fourth is countries with manufacturing capacity for vaccines and therapeutics.