WHO declares Monkeypox global health emergencytext_fields
New Delhi: World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared on Saturday that the currently spreading monkeypox outbreak represents a global health emergency. This is WHO's the highest level of alert, Reuters reported.
When the WHO declares a "public health emergency of international concern", it is an alarm for coordinated international response, release of funds and global collaboration on sharing vaccines and treatments.
Though the members of an expert committee that met on Thursday to discuss the potential recommendation were split on the decision, the UN agency's head decided so. Only six members voted in favour of the declaration, while nine were against it.
Against his own precedent, he decided to back the highest alert- which is labelled on Coronavirus and polio until now- as cases are escalating globally and there are concerns about the shortage in supply of vaccines and treatment.
This year, there were more than 16,000 monkeypox cases reported in 75-plus countries. Five deaths were reported in Africa. The viral disease spreads through close contact and induces flue-like symptoms and pus-filled skin lesions. The disease has been noted chiefly spreading among men who have sex with other men in the recent outbreak.
When the WHO committee met first at the end of June, the number of reported cases was comparatively low, around 3,000.
One of the main reasons behind the declaration is that the disease is being detected in more groups other than men having sex with men. Also, any changes in the virus will call for reassessment, the committee has decided. On Friday, the United States detected its first two cases of the disease in children.
According to sources, the expert committee is split into two: those who think an emergency declaration would accelerate efforts to contain the disease and those who do not believe the above criteria have been met because the disease has not yet spread to new groups of people or had a high fatality rate, Reuters reports.