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    Relief: Monkeypox Not a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, Says WHO

    HealthRelief: Monkeypox Not a Public Health Emergency of International...
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    Relief: Monkeypox Not a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, Says WHO

    The Emergency Committee pointed out that disease has been circulating in a number of African countries for decades and has been neglected in terms of research, attention and funding – a problem dogging not just for Monkeypox, but many other neglected diseases in low-income countries.

    The spread of Monkeypox, now identified in over 50 countries across five WHO regions, with 3,000 cases since early May does not constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, says WHO’s Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Europe remains the epicentre of this escalating outbreak with 25 countries reporting more than 85 per cent of the global total.

    A Public Health Emergency of International Concern or PHEIC is the highest level of alert WHO can issue, as it did for the COVID-19 pandemic, but the global health body conveyed that the convening of the committee itself reflects the increasing concern about the international spread of Monkeypox.

    In his statement on the Emergency Committee on Monkeypox, Tedros said that the committee shared serious concerns about the scale and speed of the current outbreak, noted many unknowns, gaps in current data and prepared a consensus report that reflects differing views amongst the committee.

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    According to the WHO, the Monkeypox outbreak represents and evolving threat that needs a collective response by governments around the world. Tedros said that the outbreak of Monkeypox has reminded yet again that health is an interconnected proposition.

    “This is clearly an evolving health threat that my colleagues and I in the WHO Secretariat are following extremely closely,” he said. “It requires our collective attention and coordinated action now to stop the further spread of Monkeypox virus using public health measures including surveillance, contact-tracing, isolation and care of patients, and ensuring health tools like vaccines and treatments are available to at-risk populations and shared fairly.”
    Continuing spread and risks

    A statement from the proceedings of the WHO emergency committee on Monkeypox said that “a few members expressed differing views.”

    The committee pointed out that Monkeypox has been circulating in a number of African countries for decades and has been neglected in terms of research, attention and funding – a problem dogging not just for Monkeypox, but many other neglected diseases in low-income countries.

    According to WHO, the current outbreak is especially concerning because of its rapid, continuing spread into new countries and regions and the risk of further sustained transmission into vulnerable populations including people that are immunocompromised, pregnant women and children.

    The organisation stressed the urgency for all countries to take the recommendations of the committee for stepped-up surveillance, improved diagnostics community engagement and risk communication, and the appropriate use of therapeutics, vaccines, and public health measures including contact tracing and isolation.

    Since learning about the outbreak of Monkeypox on 7 May, WHO has issued clinical guidance and convened hundreds of scientists and researchers to speed up research and development into Monkeypox and the potential for new tools to be developed. WHO has also convened meetings of community members and organizations from the LGBTQI+ community so that health information and advice on protection measures are shared effectively around mass gatherings.

    WHO has called on governments across the world to collaborate, share information, and engage with affected communities so that public health safety measures are communicated quickly and effectively.

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