The World Health Organization (WHO), has declared the monkey pox outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.
The experts reviewed the situation at an emergency committee meeting two days earlier before the decision was announced.
The WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said there were complexities and uncertainties associated with public health event.
While also considering the views of Committee Members and Advisors as well as other factors in line with the International Health Regulations, the Director-General decided that the multi-country outbreak of monkey pox constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
“While the committee was unable to reach a consensus, I decided after considering the five elements required on deciding whether an outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern”. He said.
Ghebreyesus also explained that while he was announcing monkey pox a public health emergency of international concern, for the moment it is an outbreak that is concentrated on homosexuals, especially those who have multiple partners.
He implored that focus risk communication and community support efforts on settings and venues where intimate encounters take place such as gatherings focused on sex-in -premises venues.
“Some of the measures include engaging with and supporting the organizers of large and smaller scale events, as well as with owners and managers of sex on premises venues, to promote personal protective measures and risk-reducing behavior.”
The Director General added that WHO defines a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) as an extraordinary event that constitutes a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease and potentially requires a coordinated international response.
“The PHEIC designation comes from the International Health Regulations created in 2005, and it represents an international agreement to help prevent and respond to public health risks that have the potential to spread around the globe. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes the regulations as “a legally binding agreement of 196 countries to build the capability to detect and report potential public health emergencies worldwide. IHR requires that all countries can detect, assess, report, and respond to public health events.” He said.
According to the CDC, the monkey pox virus can be spread through contact with body fluids, sores or items such as clothing and bedding contaminated with the virus. It can also spread from person to person through respiratory droplets, typically in a close setting.
He explained that anyone who had contact with a carrier of the disease such as rashes, or who has had contact with someone who has a probable or confirmed case of monkey pox, is at high risk for infection. A large number of cases this year have been in men who have sex with men, and public health officials are focusing their prevention efforts on this group.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also launched a live data dashboard for the multi-country monkey pox outbreak and It can be accessed through: https://extranet.who.int/publicemergency.
The dashboard provides a global overview of the monkey pox epidemiological situation as reported to WHO and will be updated daily. The report is said to be focused on confirmed cases as defined by the WHO’s working case definition published in the Surveillance, case investigation and contact tracing for Monkey pox interim guidance.