After the virus reached the nook and corner of over six dozen nations around the world the UN health agency–World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency.
Speaking at a press conference on Saturday in Geneva based WHO headquarters, the WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that “I decided the outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern.”
The WHO sees the outbreak as severe enough to warrant a coordinated global response to prevent it from reaching pandemic levels.
“WHO’s assessment is that the risk of monkeypox is moderate globally and in all regions, except in the European region where we assess the risk as high,” told the WHO chief.
“In short, we have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly through new modes of transmission about which we understand too little and which meets the criteria in the international health regulations,” Tedros said.
As the WHO had received reports of over 16,000 cases from 75 countries and territories with five deaths changing the situation, the move marks the first time that WHO chief has declared a global emergency without the full support of the agency.
This is the seventh time such a declaration has been made since 2009 with most recent declaration was made in 2020 for COVID-19
Monkeypox has spread speedily in the United States since cases were first detected in the country in May.
According to WHO, the virus can cause symptoms like lesions, a rash and swelling of lymph nodes.
Since early May 2022, cases of monkeypox have been reported from countries where the disease is not endemic, and continue to be reported in several endemic countries in Europe and North America.
Most reported cases so far have been identified through sexual health or other health services in primary or secondary health-care facilities and have involved mainly, but not exclusively, men who have sex with men.
WHO has been collaborating, issuing guidance to help countries on surveillance, laboratory work, clinical care, infection prevention and control, as well as risk communication and community engagement to inform communities at risk and the broader general public about monkeypox and how to keep safe.
WHO is also working closely with countries in Africa and other institutions to support efforts to bolster laboratory diagnosis, disease surveillance, readiness and response actions to prevent further infections.