WHO Declares Global Health Emergency Over Monkeypox Outbreak

By Natalie Grover, John Revill and Jennifer Rigby

Test tubes labelled “Monkeypox virus positive” are seen in this illustration taken May 22, 2022. Photo: Reuters / DADO RUVIC

The rapidly spreading monkeypox outbreak represents a global health emergency, the World Health Organization’s highest level of alert, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Saturday.

The WHO label – a “public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC)” – is designed to trigger a coordinated international response and could unlock funding to collaborate on sharing vaccines and treatments.

Members of an expert committee that met on Thursday to discuss the potential recommendation were split on the decision, with nine members against and six in favour of the declaration, prompting Tedros himself to break the deadlock, he told reporters.

“Although I am declaring a public health emergency of international concern, for the moment this is an outbreak that is concentrated among men who have sex with men, especially those with multiple sexual partners,” Tedros told a media briefing in Geneva.

“Stigma and discrimination can be as dangerous as any virus,” he added.

He said the risk of monkeypox – which spreads via close contact and tends to cause flu-like symptoms and pus-filled skin lesions – was moderate globally, except in the Europe, where the WHO has deemed the risk as high.

Previously, Tedros has typically endorsed expert committee recommendations, but the two sources told Reuters earlier on Saturday said he had likely decided to back the highest alert level due to concerns about escalating case rates and a short supply of vaccines and treatments.

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About Cholo Brooks 17460 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.

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