The World Health Organisation’s (WHO), head, has declared the monkeypox epidemic a “global emergency in health”
At a news conference, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated that the WHO committee was unable to reach a consensus and that he declared an emergency to break the tie.
He said that the global risk is “moderate” except for Europe, where it is “high”.
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Dr Ghebreyesus stated that there were more than 16,000 cases reported to the WHO by monkeypox in 75 countries and five deaths.
The WHO has declared the outbreak to initiate an international response. This could lead to funding and sharing of vaccines.
Dr Ghebreyesus also offered suggestions on how to implement a response. These included:
* To engage and defend affected communities.
* To increase surveillance and public health;
* To improve clinical management and infection prevention in hospitals and clinics.
* To speed up research on the use of therapeutics, vaccines and other tools.
For decades, the disease has been present in some parts of central and western Africa. However, it was not known that it could cause large-scale outbreaks elsewhere on the continent.
Authorities in the US and Western Europe discovered dozens of cases in May.
On the previously-declared global health emergencies list, Monkeypox is now with Ebola and COVID-19.
Rosamund Lewis, the WHO’s expert on monkeypox, stated earlier this week that 99% of cases were outside of Africa in men. 98% of these cases were among men who had sex with others men.
She warned that discrimination and stigma are unacceptable. Stigma is not helpful and will make people turn away from seeking diagnostics.
Experts believe that the spread started at two raves in Spain and Belgium.
According to the NHS, symptoms include a fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, as well as swollen glands and shivering.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), has purchased an additional 100,000 doses to combat the spread of the virus. Those who are eligible will be contacted by NHS to receive their vaccines.
“We can’t afford to wait for diseases to get worse before we act”
According to the most recent figures, 2,137 cases were confirmed in the UK. 2,050 of these cases are in England.
Dr Josie Golding from Wellcome’s epidemiology and epidemics department stated: “Our world is becoming increasingly vulnerable to infectious disease outbreaks. This declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern is a stark reminder for world leaders of the current reality and our collective inability to respond.
“With monkeypox cases increasing and spreading to more countries, there is a double challenge: an endemic African disease that has been neglected for decades and a new outbreak affecting marginalised communities. This outbreak must be controlled by international cooperation and governments should take this issue seriously.
It is essential to have tried and tested public health measures, including enhanced disease surveillance, contact tracking, and equitable access for people most at-risk to tests, treatments, and vaccines. Governments must support research to better understand the reasons for new transmission patterns, assess the effectiveness of current tools and develop improved interventions.
“Monkeypox will continue infecting more people unnecessarily, and establish itself in more populations. This includes the possibility of reverse spillover to animals. We can’t afford to wait for the spread of diseases before we act.