Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Threat on global health

With more than 16,000 cases found in over 70 countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) has finally declared Monkeypox as a public health emergency. The virus which was once confined to Africa, has been detected in over 70 countries this year as the overall global tally passes the 16,000-mark Even in India there have been four confirmed cases of Monkeypox. A Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) is a formal declaration by the WHO of “an extraordinary event which is determined to constitute a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease and to potentially require a coordinated international response”. From 2009 to 2022 out of seven PHEICs, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the ongoing 2022 monkeypox outbreak are some of them. The recommendations are temporary and require reviews every three months. Under the 2005 International Health Regulations (IHR), states have a legal duty to respond promptly to a PHEIC. The declaration is publicized by an IHR Emergency Committee (EC) of international experts, which was developed following the 2002–2004 SARS outbreak. According to WHO, a majority of cases have been reported among men who have sex with men. Unlike two years back when coronavirus had caught the world unprepared as hospitals got overwhelmed amid soaring case, the world health body said that vaccines used during the smallpox eradication programme are also provided protection against monkeypox. The medical body further says that vaccines against smallpox work on monkeypox because of close link between the two viruses. However, there is a note of caution. “ACAM2000 is administered as a live Vaccinia virus preparation that is inoculated into the skin by pricking the skin surface. WHO informed that following a successful inoculation, a lesion will develop at the site of the vaccination. The virus growing at the site of this inoculation lesion can be spread to other parts of the body or even to other people. While the focus presently is on COVID and now monkeypox, the recent emergence and re-emergence of viral infections transmitted by vectors—Zika, chikungunya, dengue, Japanese encephalitis, Kyasanur Forest Virus(transmitted by ticks), Machupo virus(or black typhus), Crimea-Congo fever(transmitted by ticks), Junin virus, Lassa virus, Bird flu virus, Hanta Virus, Ebola etc are cause for great concern. The world is facing multiple health challenges. These range from outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and diphtheria, increasing reports of drug-resistant pathogens, growing rates of obesity and physical inactivity to the health impacts of environmental pollution and climate change and multiple humanitarian crises. WHO is constantly monitoring the circulation of influenza viruses to detect potential pandemic strains: 153 institutions in 114 countries are involved in global surveillance and response. The evolving global health system has done much to protect and promote human health. However, the world continues to be confronted by longstanding, emerging, and re-emerging infectious disease threats. According to WHO, these threats differ widely in terms of severity and probability. They also have varying consequences for morbidity and mortality, as well as for a complex set of social and economic outcomes. It would take some effort on the part of nations to mainstream strategies in order to improve health environment to prevent spread of various diseases.

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