Home / News / World /  Why monkeypox outbreak is a public health emergency? WHO chief lists 2 crucial reasons
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Due to an unprecedented rise in the number of cases, the monkeypox virus has caught the attention in the past few months. With only a few cases reported from the United Kingdom in May, now the infection count is close to 28,000 in over 85 countries, and the outbreak shows no sign of slowing down. Meanwhile, last month, World Health Organisation (WHO) declared monkeypox to be a global health emergency, and the WHO chief explains why. 

The unprecedented rise in monkeypox cases

Regarding monkeypox, WHO chief  Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the has been known to infect humans for more than 50 years, but until this year, was little known or understood outside Africa. Owing to this, the disease received scant attention or investment.

“On 13 May, the United Kingdom reported a case of monkeypox in an individual with recent travel history to Nigeria, one of several African countries where the virus is known to be endemic. Since then, the outbreak has expanded rapidly. At the time of writing, more than 26 000 cases have been reported from 85 countries and territories, with 12 deaths, and the outbreak shows no sign of slowing down."

In most cases the disease is self-limiting; however, symptoms can be severe and about 10% of cases are admitted to hospital to manage the excruciating pain caused by the disease or secondary infections.

Yet to be known how the vaccines work

The WHO chief also pointed out that it is yet to be known how well the vaccine will work. 

“Two smallpox vaccines have been approved for use against monkeypox and a third is under consideration. However, data are lacking on the efficacy of these vaccines for monkeypox, and an effective immune response can take several weeks to develop, meaning vaccination will not provide instant protection against infection or disease." 

Meanwhile, the UN health agency is currently working with manufacturers to accelerate equitable access to vaccines

The primary focus for all countries, therefore, must be to stop transmission using effective public health tools, including enhanced disease surveillance, careful contact tracing, tailored risk communication and community engagement, and risk reduction measures. 

“The rapid international spread of the virus, the risk of further spread with unknown impact, the potential for the virus to become entrenched in previously unaffected regions, and the fact that the outbreak clearly met the definition of a PHEIC outlined in the IHR, all led me to the decision that the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern," the WHO chief asserted. 


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