Home / News / India /  Unusual and concerning: After WHN calls monkeypox a pandemic, what WHO said
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Following the World Health Networwork declaration of monkeypox to be a pandemic, the World Health Organization committee will meet on Thursday to decide whether it constitutes a global health emergency. WHO notified there may have been undetected transmission for some time before its unexpected appearance in multiple countries. Describing the outbreak as "unusual and concerning", the WHO chief, earlier this month announced that he would convene an emergency committee. 

So far, some 2,103 confirmed cases of monkeypox, including one death, have been reported to WHO from 42 countries. But WHO's Europe office and the EU health agency conveyed that 2,746 cases had been recorded in Europe alone till Tuesday. 

"The emergency committee will provide a recommendation to the director-general based on scientific principles, and an assessment of the risk to human health, the risk of international spread and the risk of interference with international traffic," the WHO said.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus then makes the final determination on whether a PHEIC should be declared, based on their advice. A PHEIC is the highest alarm that the WHO can sound, under the International Health Regulations.

Thursday's meeting will be held in private and a statement regarding the same will be issued on Friday. 

84% cases are found in Europe

A surge of monkeypox cases has been detected since May outside of the West and Central African countries where the disease has long been endemic. Most of the new cases have been in Western Europe. 

"The outbreak of monkeypox continues to primarily affect men who have sex with men who have reported recent sex with new or multiple partners," the WHO said. Some 84 percent of the cases have been found in Europe, with the most cases being reported from Britain, Spain, Germany, Portugal, Canada and France. The UN health agency currently assesses the global risk level as moderate, considering the low mortality rate.

Six PHEIC declarations since 2009

There have been six PHEIC declarations since 2009, the last being for Covid-19 in 2020 -- though the sluggish global response to the alarm bell still rankles at the WHO's Geneva headquarters.

Emergency committee meetings on the new coronavirus outbreak were held on January 22 and 23, 2020 but the panel could not agree at that time that the PHEIC threshold had been reached.

(With inputs from agencies)

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