In light of the highly virulent spread of the current monkeypox outbreak across multiple parts of the globe, the World Health Organization has now officially labelled it as being a ‘global health emergency’, reports The Washington Post.
The designation, otherwise termed as a ‘public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC)’, is aimed at calling upon an international effort to coordinate a targeted response, while also unlocking funding efforts that could potentially lead to the research and development of vaccines or treatments specific to the disease.
Monkeypox declared a global health emergency by WHO
This comes after a committee convened last Thursday (July 21st 2022) to discuss on the matter by weighing in on available evidence and research, before relaying their suggestions to the Director-General. However, the meeting did not conclude on a common consensus, leading to a split between members on the declaration. Nine members were against the designation, while six voted for it. By the end, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus himself broke the voting deadlock.
“We have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly, through new modes of transmission, about which we understand too little,”
“For all of these reasons, I have decided that the global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern.” Tedros said.
The last disease to receive this designation was the COVID-19 pandemic, which was declared a global health emergency by WHO in early 2020. As such, this would mean that the world is now currently battling two concurrent viral diseases with the designation: monkeypox and COVID-19.
16,000 cases recorded so far
As of present, the spread of the virus remains largely concentrated among men who engage in sexual intercourse with other men. The virus is especially prevalent among those with multiple sexual partners. With that being said however, Tedros has warned against practicing any discriminatory behaviour against those in the affected group.
“Stigma and discrimination can be as dangerous as any virus,” he told members of the media during a conference in Geneva.
Causing flu-like symptoms and leaving lesions that appear almost like boils on the skin, monkeypox is typically spread through close contact, reports Reuters. As of present, 16,000 cases have been reported across 70 countries, with 5 deaths occurring in Africa. No deaths from monkeypox have been reported outside Africa. WHO data also indicates that monkeypox infection rates have gone up by 77% between late June to early July, according to CNBC.
The risk the virus poses globally remains moderate, except for Europe where the WHO has deemed as high. A single case was also detected in Singapore, involving a Malaysian man who lived in the island-state.
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