Monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern, says WHO

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Monkeypox disease has been declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization (WHO)

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General, disclosed this during the Virtual Press Conference to update the report of the 2nd meeting of the International Health Regulations (IHR) Emergency Committee on the multi-country outbreak of Monkeypox.

Tedros said the organization was being compelled to declare Monkeypox as a health emergency following its widespread.

He, however, assured that the outbreak could be stopped with the right strategy since it is mostly transmitted through sex among men.

He said: "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. That means that this is an outbreak that can be stopped with the right strategies in the right groups".

Monkeypox
Monkeypox

Ghebreyesus urged countries to work closely with the community, mostly with men who have sex with other men, to devise a strategy to protect affected communities.

He also warned that people affected with Monkeypox might face the danger of discrimination and stigma.

The DG calls on everyone, including civil society organizations with experience in dealing with HIV, to join in fighting discrimination and stigma.

He said, "A month ago, I convened the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations to assess whether the multi-country monkeypox outbreak represented a public health emergency of international concern.

"At that meeting, while differing views were expressed, the committee resolved by a consensus that the outbreak did not represent a public health emergency of international concern.

"At the time, 3040 cases of Monkeypox had been reported to WHO, from 47 countries. Since then, the outbreak has continued to grow, and there are now more than 16 thousand reported cases from 75 countries and territories and five deaths."

The WHO committee on health emergency summoned to review the MonkeyPox epidemic has been unable to reach a consensus on whether the outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern.

"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.

"For all of these reasons, I have decided that the global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern.

Accordingly, I have made a set of recommendations for four groups of countries," he said

Under the International Health Regulations, the WHO is expected to consider five elements in deciding whether an outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.

For this reason, the committee have not been able to reach a consensus.

"First, the information provided by countries – which in this case shows that this virus has spread rapidly to many countries that have not seen it before, Ghebreyesus said.

"Second, the three criteria for declaring a public health emergency of international concern under the International Health Regulations have been met.

"Third, the advice of the Emergency Committee, which has not reached consensus;

"Fourth, scientific principles, evidence and other relevant information – which are currently insufficient and leave us with many unknowns;

"And fifth, the risk to human health, international spread, and the potential for interference with international traffic," he said.

According to the WHO assessment conclusion, the risk of Monkeypox is moderate globally and in all regions except Europe, where it is high.

"There is also a clear risk of further international spread, although the risk of interference with international traffic remains low for the moment," he said

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