In view of the rapid outbreak of monkeypox in more than 70 countries around the world, the World Health Organization declared the monkeypox outbreak a global emergency and issued the highest level of alert.
The World Health Organization’s designation of monkeypox as a “public health emergency of international concern” aims to raise the alarm about the need for coordinated international interaction and the ability to invest heavily in global funding and efforts to collaborate on vaccine and medical exchanges.
“I have decided to declare a public health emergency of international concern” in response to the monkeypox outbreak, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference, explaining that with the exception of Europe, which is considered high risk , the global risk is relatively flat.
The virus has infected about 17,000 people in 74 locations since the virus was detected in early May last year outside African countries where it is endemic, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) census as of July 22. countries, and killed 5 people in Africa.
Disagreement within the organization
Two previously unnamed sources told Reuters that panelists who met last Thursday to discuss potential recommendations were divided on the decision, but the final decision was made by the organization’s director general.
Two sources said the committee is now split between those who believe the emergency declaration will speed up efforts to contain the virus and those who do not believe the virus has met the above criteria because the virus has not yet spread to new groups and it is now almost fully Transmission among gay men did not result in a high mortality rate.
Tedros announced the health emergency decision in a statement to the media in Geneva, which was supported by six members and opposed by nine members, emphasizing that the committee could not reach consensus.
Tedros explained that he had to intervene to cast a decisive vote in the dispute over declaring the monkeypox outbreak a “global health emergency.”
“While I declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, this outbreak is currently focused on gay men, especially those with multiple partners,” he added.
The White House said the announcement represented “an international call for action to stop the spread of this virus.” Raj Panjabi, director of the White House Office of Epidemic Prevention and Control, said a “coordinated international response is essential to stop the spread of the virus and protect social groups at risk.”
Tedros has followed the committee’s advice in previous similar cases, but two people familiar with the matter said it was likely despite the lack of majority support amid concerns about escalating cases and shortages of vaccines and treatments. Decided to support issuing the highest level alert.
He also said the decision “is just a step in improving the WHO’s position, and the right outcome is clear, that not declaring a state of emergency at this stage will miss a historic opportunity.”
An unusual increase in monkeypox cases was detected outside the Central and West African countries where the virus is endemic in early May, and since then the virus has spread around the world, with Europe becoming the epicentre of the outbreak.
spread among gay men
The monkeypox virus was discovered in humans in 1970 and is considered less dangerous and contagious than smallpox, which was eradicated in 1980.
A study published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine confirmed that the vast majority (95%) of recent cases were transmitted through sexual contact, with 98% of cases occurring in gay and bisexual men , the study is based on data from 16 different countries and is the largest study on the subject.
“This mode of transmission is both an opportunity and a challenge to implement targeted public health interventions, as communities affected by (monkeypox virus) face life-threatening discrimination in some countries,” Tedros said.
“The real concern is that gay men could be stigmatized or blamed for a sudden increase in cases, making the disease harder to track and stop,” he warned.
Lawrence Gostin, a US health law professor and director of the World Health Organization’s Center for Health Law, tweeted: “Monkeypox is out of control and there is no legal, scientific or health reason not to declare it an international public health issue. Emergencies”.
Gostin argued that it would be a mistake and a scandal if the reason for not declaring an international health emergency was “that it is limited to the social group of men who have sex with men.”
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on Friday it had approved a human smallpox vaccine and expanded its use to combat the spread of monkeypox disease. The vaccine is already in use in many countries, including France.
The vaccine “Imvanex”, produced by Denmark’s Bavarian Nordic, was approved by the European Union in 2013 for the treatment of smallpox virus.
In New York, thousands of people have been vaccinated so far.