WHO Declares Monkeypox Public Health EmergencyBy Rodrigo Andrade | Wed, 07/27/2022 - 13:52
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). This the third active disease that the WHO has designated in this category, following COVID-19 and polio. This is the highest level of global alert.
This announcement means that the collaboration between countries and organizations is needed to prevent the virus from spreading and, eventually, turn into a global pandemic. However, the risk of Monkeypox is moderate in all regions except the EU, where the risk is high, said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General, WHO. However, the rapid spread and the little information available on this disease makes it meet the criteria of an emergency under International Health Regulations.
“For all of these reasons, I have decided that the global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern,” announced Adhanom during a press conference. Over 16,000 cases in 75 countries have been officially reported. “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.
The declaration does not mean that the member states of the WHO must officially take action, as the organization can only suggest guidelines and actions for preventing the disease to keep spreading. “This is an outbreak that can be stopped with the right strategies in the right groups,” said Adhanom. As of today, the disease is affecting mainly men who have sex with men, especially those with multiple sex partners.
Discrimination remains one of the main problems of the outbreak. The stigmatization of monkeypox could make the disease spread faster and make it more difficult to identify. However, the virus can be controlled, said WHO.
Information is a missing piece, countries in West and Central Africa have shared scarce information about the disease, compromising decisions in regions where the disease had not previously spread, as reported by MBN.
New waves of monkeypox cases are forecasted as long as the virus keeps presenting in new and susceptible populations, which is why Committee members supported declaring the disease a public health emergency of international concern. Experts suspect that the actual size of the outbreak might be underestimated.
In Mexico there are officially 35 confirmed cases, with 22 being diagnosed in Mexico City, nine in Jalisco, one in Veracruz, one in Colima, one in Baja California and one in Nuevo Leon. Last week, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reported 1,981 confirmed cases from 15 countries in the Americas.