WHO convenes experts to determine if monkeypox is a global health emergency


Geneva — The World Health Organization (WHO) convenes an expert emergency committee to decide whether the mysteriously spreading monkeypox outbreak outside Africa should be considered a global health emergency.

WHO Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom Gebreyes showed “abnormal” recent behavior on Tuesday by spreading the virus to countries far beyond parts of Africa where the virus is endemic, and was urgently commissioned on June 23. He said he had decided to convene a meeting.

“We think we need a coordinated response because of the geographical extent,” he told reporters.

Declaring monkeypox as an international health emergency gives the same designation as the COVID-19 pandemic, and WHO normally considers rare illnesses to be a continuing threat to countries around the world. Means.

The UK said on Monday that there were 470 monkeypox cases nationwide, the majority of which were gay or bisexual men. British scientists said last week it was unclear if the epidemic of the disease in Britain had peaked.

Meetings with outside experts may also help improve understanding and knowledge of the virus, as WHO has released new guidelines for vaccination against monkeypox, Tedros said.

Dr. Ibrahima Soce Fall, WHO’s Head of Emergency for Africa, said the number of cases is increasing daily and health authorities are facing “many gaps in knowledge about communication dynamics” both inside and outside Africa. ..

“The advice from the Emergency Commission puts us in a better position to manage the situation, but it goes straight to the public health emergencies of international concern. It doesn’t make sense, “he said, referring to WHO’s highest level of vigilance against the outbreak of the virus. “I don’t want to wait to start calling the emergency committee until the situation goes out of control.”

The United Nations Health Agency does not recommend mass vaccination, but does recommend the “wise” use of vaccines. He said that disease management relies primarily on measures such as monitoring, case tracking, and patient isolation.

Last month, a key WHO adviser said the outbreaks in Europe and beyond were likely spread by gender at two recent rave parties in Spain and Belgium.

Scientists warn that close physical contact with infected persons, clothing and sheets, regardless of sexual orientation, can catch monkeypox.

WHO is working with partner countries to develop a mechanism to make some vaccines for smallpox (related diseases) available in affected countries as they continue to study their efficacy against new outbreaks. I am.

According to Tedros, more than 1,600 cases and about 1,500 suspicious cases have been reported this year in 39 countries, including seven countries where monkeypox has been reported for many years. A total of 72 deaths have been reported, but no deaths have been reported in newly affected countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, Poland, Spain and the United States.

The ongoing outbreak of monkeypox in Europe and elsewhere is the first known spread of the disease among people who have no travel links to Africa.

Jamie Keeten