The World Health Organization has determined that the current outbreak of monkeypox constitutes a global health emergency.
The categorization, which is the highest alert that the WHO can give, came after an increase in reported cases all around the world.
It was announced after the conclusion of the second meeting of the emergency committee on the virus that is part of the WHO.
According to the director general of the WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, there have now been more than 16,000 cases recorded from 75 different countries.
He also mentioned that there had been five fatalities so far as a direct result of the outbreak.
At the moment, there are only two previous instances of such a health emergency: the ongoing fight to eradicate polio and the widespread spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
WHO calls the outbreak of monkeypox in more than 70 countries a “international public health emergency of concern.”
The spread of monkeypox in more than 70 countries has been called a “emergency of international concern” by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The WHO’s “public health emergency of international concern” label is meant to send a message that a coordinated international response is needed. It could also help get funding and get people around the world working together to share vaccines and treatments.
Governments are told to make doctors and hospitals more aware of the disease, to take precautions when suspected cases are found, and to teach people how to avoid getting sick.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus decided to make the declaration even though the experts on the UN health agency’s emergency committee did not agree. It was the first time that the head of the UN agency for health had done something like that.
Tedros told reporters in Geneva that he had decided to declare a health emergency and that the committee had not come to a decision. Nine members were against the declaration, and six were for it.
Tedros said on Saturday, “We have an outbreak that has quickly spread around the world through new ways of spreading that we don’t know enough about, but that meets the criteria in the international health regulations.”
“I know this hasn’t been an easy or simple process, and I know that the committee members have different ideas,” he said.
Tedros said that more than 16,000 cases and five deaths have been reported from 75 countries and territories.
A worldwide emergency is the WHO’s highest level of alert, although it does not necessarily indicate that a disease is highly contagious or fatal.
Dr. Michael Ryan, WHO’s emergency coordinator, stated that the director-general decided to place monkeypox in this category to ensure that the global community takes the current outbreak seriously.
Monkeypox has existed in portions of Central and West Africa for decades, but it was not known to cause big outbreaks or to spread widely among humans until May, when officials detected dozens of cases in Europe, North America, and other regions.
To date, monkeypox deaths have only been reported in Africa, where a more lethal strain of the virus is spreading, particularly in Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In Africa, monkeypox is transmitted to humans by infected wild animals, such as rats, in small epidemics that do not normally transcend borders. Monkeypox is spreading in Europe, North America, and other regions in the absence of animal contact or recent travel to Africa.
Director of the WHO Center for Global Health Law Lawrence Gostin told Al Jazeera that “monkeypox cases have increased exponentially in five WHO areas of the world.”
To attempt to nip this in the bud, contact tracing, broad testing, and a planned deployment of vaccines are required. However, the window for monkeypox containment is fast closing, and we fear that the disease could become endemic in Europe, North America, and other parts of the world within the next several months, Gostin told Al Jazeera.