An outbreak of monkeypox has been declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Saturday morning, after WHO’s second emergency committee convened on Thursday, the decision was announced.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, announced on Saturday morning that the global monkeypox outbreak is a public health emergency of international concern.
Tedros says the committee was unable to reach a consensus, but he made the decision after considering the five elements that must be considered when determining whether an outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.
While declaring monkeypox an international public health emergency, he added, “For now, this is an outbreak that is mainly affecting men who have sex with men, especially those with multiple partners, which means the outbreak can be stopped with the right strategies.”
During its first emergency committee meeting on June 23, WHO did not declare the monkeypox outbreak an international health emergency. “The event does not constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern”, according to Tedros; however, WHO will closely monitor the “evolving health threat” in the future.
In public health emergencies of international concern, or PHEICs, WHO defines an event as “an extraordinary event” that poses a health threat to other countries.
During its first meeting in late June, the organization’s emergency committee on monkeypox reported serious concerns about the scale and speed of the virus outbreak, but decided not to declare a public health emergency. In order to present the latest information, Tedros reconvened the committee.
PHEIC comes from the 2005 International Health Regulations, which represent an international agreement to address and prevent global public health risks.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the regulations “bind 196 countries to detect and report potential public health emergencies worldwide.” Countries must “do everything in their power to detect, assess, report, and respond to public health emergencies.”
Polio, which began in 2014, and Covid-19, which began in 2020, are two ongoing public health emergencies.
The H1N1 influenza from 2009 to 2010; the Ebola virus from 2014 to 2016 and from 2019 to 2020; and the Zika virus from 2016 to date have all been declared PHEICs since the regulations were implemented.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports over 2,800 probable or confirmed monkeypox cases in 44 states, DC, and Puerto Rico. More than 16,500 cases have been reported in 74 countries worldwide.
The monkeypox virus is a much less severe cousin of the now-eradicated smallpox. The disease is endemic to West and Central Africa and is usually transmitted by rodents or small mammals.
Contact with body fluids, sores, and contaminated clothing and bedding can spread the monkeypox virus. The CDC reports that respiratory droplets can also spread it from person to person.
It is highly likely that anyone who has had contact with someone with a monkeypox-like rash, or who has had contact with someone who has a probable or confirmed case of monkeypox, will develop the disease. Several cases this year have been reported in men who have sex with men, and public health officials are focusing their prevention efforts on this group.
Source: CNN News