Monkeypox has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization as the risk in Europe is described as ‘high’ | Science and technology news
The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak of monkeypox a “global public health emergency”.
dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference that although the WHO committee failed to reach consensus, he nevertheless declared the emergency a crucial vote.
He added that the risk is “moderate” globally, except in Europe where it is “high”.
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dr Ghebreyesus said the WHO had reported more than 16,000 cases of monkeypox from 75 countries and five deaths.
The WHO statement aims to spark an international response to the outbreak that could unlock funding and vaccine sharing.
dr Ghebreyesus also provided recommendations on how to implement a response, including:
• engaging and protecting affected communities;
• Intensifying surveillance and action in the field of public health;
• Strengthen clinical management and infection prevention and control in hospitals and clinics;
• Accelerating research into the use of vaccines, therapeutics and other tools.
The disease has had a foothold in parts of central and west Africa for decades and has not been known to trigger large outbreaks outside of the continent.
However, in May, authorities in the US and Western Europe discovered dozens of outbreaks.
Monkeypox joins COVID-19, Ebola and Zika on the list of previously declared global health emergencies.
Earlier this week, Dr. Rosamund Lewis, the WHO monkeypox expert, states that 99% of all cases outside of Africa have occurred in men, with 98% occurring in men who have sex with other men.
She also warned that “stigma and discrimination are not okay.
Some experts believe the spread started at two raves in Belgium and Spain.
The NHS website currently lists high temperature, headache, muscle aches, back pain, swollen glands, chills and exhaustion as symptoms and is often characterized by pus-filled lesions on the skin.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has sourced a further 100,000 doses of a vaccine to help fight the spread of the virus, with those eligible being contacted by the NHS to get their shots.
“We cannot afford to continue waiting for diseases to escalate before intervening”
A total of 2,137 cases have been confirmed in the UK, with 2,050 in England – most of them in London, according to the latest figures published on July 18.
In response to the WHO move, Dr. Josie Golding, director of epidemics and epidemiology at the health organization Wellcome: “Our world is becoming increasingly vulnerable to infectious disease outbreaks. The declaration of another public health emergency of international concern should remind world leaders of this modern reality and the weaknesses in our collective capacity to prepare and respond.
“As monkeypox cases continue to rise and spread to more countries, we now face a dual challenge: an endemic disease in Africa that has been neglected for decades and a novel outbreak affecting marginalized communities. Governments need to take this more seriously and work together internationally to bring this outbreak under control.
“Proven public health measures, including increased disease surveillance, contact tracing and equal access to testing, treatment and vaccines for those most at risk, are essential. However, governments also need to support more research to understand why we are seeing new transmission patterns and assess the effectiveness of our current tools and support the development of improved interventions.
“Without this swift and focused action, monkeypox will continue to unnecessarily infect more people and establish itself in more and more populations, including the risk of recurrence in animals. We cannot afford to continue to wait for disease escalation before intervening.”