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    WHO Calls on India to Enhance Surveillance for Monkeypox

    HealthHealth PolicyWHO Calls on India to Enhance Surveillance for Monkeypox
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    WHO Calls on India to Enhance Surveillance for Monkeypox

    The Director General of Health Services convened a high level meeting today as a fourth case of Monkeypox in the country was detected. WHO has recommended countries to assess risk and initiate surveillance and public health measures, while also building and facilitating testing capacities.

    As India reported its fourth case of Monkeypox on Sunday, the World Health Organization has called on countries in South-East Asia Region to strengthen surveillance and public health measures for monkeypox, with the disease being declared a public health emergency of international concern.

    “Monkeypox has been spreading rapidly and to many countries that have not seen it before, which is a matter of great concern. However, with cases concentrated among men who have sex with men, it is possible to curtail further spread of the disease with focused efforts among at-risk population,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region.

    Globally, over 16,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported from 75 countries. Five cases of monkeypox have been reported from the WHO South-East Asia Region that includes India and much of SouthAsia. Four of these are from India and one from Thailand. Three cases in India are among nationals who returned home from the Middle East. The fourth case is of a 34-year-old man with no history of foreign travel. The individual who has been isolated in the capital’s Lok Nayak Hospital recently attended a party in Manali, Himachal Pradesh.

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    The case reported from Thailand is of a foreigner residing in the country who has been confirmed positive for monkeypox.

    WHO’s Regional Director said, “Importantly, our focused efforts and measures should be sensitive, devoid of stigma or discrimination.”

    Public health emergency of international concern

    Earlier on Saturday, the decision to term monkeypox as a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) was announced by Dr Tedros, Director-General WHO, yesterday, a day after he convened yet another meeting of the IHR emergency committee to review the multi-country outbreak.

    “Though the risk of monkeypox globally and in the region is moderate, the potential of its further international spread is real,” Dr Khetrapal Singh said. “Also, there are still many unknowns about the virus. We need to stay alert and prepared to roll out intense response to curtail further spread of monkeypox.”

    In New Delhi, the union health ministry’s Director General of Health Services (DGHS) convened a high level meeting with officials from the health ministry and the National Centre for Disease Control and scientists and officials of the Indian Council of Medical Research.

    Since the start of the outbreak, WHO has been supporting countries assess risk, and initiate public health measures, while also building and facilitating testing capacities in the countries constituting WHO’s South-East Asia Region.

    Engaging and protecting the affected communities; intensifying surveillance and public health measures; strengthening clinical management and infection prevention and control in hospitals and clinics; and accelerating research into the use of vaccines, therapeutics and other tools, are among the key measures that need to be scaled-up, the Regional Director said.

    Monkeypox virus is transmitted from infected animals to humans via indirect or direct contact. Human-to-human transmission can occur through direct contact with infectious skin or lesions, including face-to-face, skin-to-skin, and respiratory droplets. In the current outbreak countries and amongst the reported monkeypox cases, transmission appears to be occurring primarily through close physical contact, including sexual contact, WHO says. Transmission can also occur from contaminated materials such as linens, bedding, electronics, clothing, that have infectious skin particles.

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