WHO says monkeypox not a global health emergency

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Saturday that the current wave of monkeypox outbreaks (monkeypox) is not considered a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (Pheic). The decision was taken after a meeting with independent scientists.

Since May, the WHO has reported more than 3,000 official cases of monkeypox in non-endemic countries for the disease — outside the African continent. Most infections are concentrated in Europe and North America, but cases have also been reported in Brazil. There are at least 16 cases among Brazilians and health authorities have already confirmed community transmission of the virus.

WHO committee of scientists does not consider monkeypox a global health emergency (Image: Furmanphoto/Envato)

Despite the opinion on monkeypox, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus explained that the disease is a potential threat to global public health and must be tackled. In addition, some committee members “expressed different opinions,” comments Tedros.

“What makes the current outbreak especially concerning is the rapid and ongoing spread to new countries and regions and the risk of sustained transmission in vulnerable populations, including immunocompromised people, pregnant women and children,” Tedros said in a statement.

What is a global health emergency for WHO?

It is worth explaining that the global health emergency is the highest level of alert against diseases, issued by the WHO. At the moment, the definition only applies to covid-19 and polio (polio). Previously, it was used to describe outbreaks caused by the Ebola and Zika virus, in addition to the H1N1 flu.

Can Monkeypox Decision Be Revised?

Regardless of the committee’s decision, it is possible that the position will be revised if new evidence emerges. This could happen if the number of infections increases in the coming weeks and more countries report cases of monkeypox. Another point is the fact that cases become more serious and the incidence of deaths increases.

It is worth remembering that, in January 2020, the WHO did not declare covid-19 as a Pheic. However, the change in the epidemiological profile of the disease and the explosion of cases in other countries made the commission review its understanding a few weeks later.

Source: WHO (1) and (2)

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