Monday, August 15, 2022

Monkeypox declared global health emergency

The expanding monkeypox outbreak in more than 70 countries is an “extraordinary” situation that qualifies as a global emergency, the World Health Organization chief said Saturday, a declaration that could spur further investment in treating the once-rare disease and worsen the scramble for scarce vaccines.
The decision was announced Saturday morning after WHO convened its second emergency committee on the issue on Thursday.
“I have decided that the global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced on Saturday morning.
Ghebreyesus made the decision on calling monkeypox a global emergency despite a lack of consensus among experts on the U.N. health agency’s emergency committee, saying he acted as “a tiebreaker.” It was the first time a U.N. health agency chief has unilaterally made such a decision without an expert recommendation.
He added that while he was declaring monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern, “For the moment this is an outbreak that’s concentrated among men who have sex with men, especially those who have multiple partners, that means that this is an outbreak that can be stopped with the right strategies in the right groups.”
WHO defines a public health emergency of international concern, or PHEIC, as “an extraordinary event” that constitutes a “public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease” and “to potentially require a coordinated international response.”
The organization’s emergency committee on monkeypox first met in late June, when its members reported serious concerns about the scale and speed of the virus outbreak but said it didn’t constitute a PHEIC. Tedros reconvened the committee in order to provide the latest information, he has said.
The PHEIC designation comes from the International Health Regulations created in 2005, and it represents an international agreement to help the prevent and respond to public health risks that have the potential to spread around the globe.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes the regulations as “a legally binding agreement of 196 countries to build the capability to detect and report potential public health emergencies worldwide. IHR require that all countries have the ability to detect, assess, report, and respond to public health events.”
There are two ongoing public health emergencies: polio, which began in 2014, and Covid-19, starting in 2020. Four other PHEICs have been declared since the regulations were put into place: H1N1 influenza from 2009 to 2010; Ebola from 2014 to 2016 and from 2019 to 2020; and the Zika virus in 2016.
Meanwhile, India has confirmed three cases of monkeypox, all reported in Kerala.
India on Friday reported another case of monkeypox after a 35-year old man, who came to Kerala from the UAE earlier this month, tested positive for monkeypox, making him the third case of the virus from the country as well as the state.
Kerala health minister Veena George said the Malappuram native arrived in the southern state on July 6 and had fever since July 13.

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