World Health Organization declares monkeypox a global emergency

LONDON (AP) — The World Health Organization said the Expansion of monkeypox in more than 70 countries is an “extraordinary”A situation that is now considered a global emergency. This Saturday declaration could help to spur more investment in treating this once-rare condition and make the scramble even more difficult scarce vaccines.

Monkeypox is a disease that has been present in central and western Africa for many decades. However, until May, when authorities discovered dozens of epidemics across North America, Europe and other parts of the world, it was not known to have spread to large areas beyond Africa.

Declaring a global emergency means the monkeypox outbreak is an “extraordinary event”This could spread to other countries, and requires a coordinated global response. WHO has declared public health emergencies in the past for the COVID-19 pandemic in 2014 West Africa, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and the Zika virus epidemic in Latin America in 2016. This is in addition to the ongoing effort to eradicate Polio.

The emergency declaration is primarily a call for more international resources and attention to an epidemic. The U.N.’s health agency is not able to get countries to take action, so previous announcements have had mixed results.

Last month, WHO’s expert committee said the worldwide monkeypox outbreak did not yet amount to an international emergency, but the panel convened this week to reevaluate the situation.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 16,000 cases have been reported in 74 countries of monkeypox since May. Monkeypox deaths have been limited to Africa. A more severe version of the virus is being spread mainly in Nigeria, Congo, and Nigeria.

In Africa, monkeypox spreads primarily to people through infected wild animals, such as rodents. Usually, these outbreaks do not cross borders. Monkeypox spreads to North America, Europe and elsewhere.

WHO’s top monkeypox expert, Dr. Rosamund Lewis, said this week that 99% of all the monkeypox cases beyond Africa were in men and that of those, 98% involved men who have sex with men. Experts suspect that the monkeypox outbreaks in North America, Europe and North America were spread through sex at raves in Spain and Belgium.

Michael Head, a senior research fellow in global health at Southampton University, said it was surprising WHO hadn’t already declared monkeypox a global emergency, explaining that the conditions were arguably met weeks ago.

Some experts have questioned whether such a declaration would help, arguing the disease isn’t severe enough to warrant the attention and that rich countries battling monkeypox already have the funds to do so; most people recover without needing medical attention, although the lesions may be painful.

“I think it would be better to be proactive and overreact to the problem instead of waiting to react when it’s too late,”Head stated. He added that WHO’s emergency declaration could help donors like the World Bank make funds available to stop the outbreaks both in the West and in Africa, where animals are the likely natural reservoir of monkeypox.

Experts in the U.S. speculate that monkeypox could be on the brink of becoming an epidemic. Sexually transmitted diseases that are deeply ingrained in the country, like gonorrhea, herpes and HIV.

“The bottom line is we’ve seen a shift in the epidemiology of monkeypox where there’s now widespread, unexpected transmission,”Albert Ko, Yale University professor of epidemiology and public health, said the following: “There are some genetic mutations in the virus that suggest why that may be happening, but we do need a globally-coordinated response to get it under control,”He stated.

Ko called for rapid scaling up of testing, saying that the situation was similar to COVID-19 early days.

“The cases we are seeing are just the tip of the iceberg,”He stated. “The window has probably closed for us to quickly stop the outbreaks in Europe and the U.S., but it’s not too late to stop monkeypox from causing huge damage to poorer countries without the resources to handle it.”

Experts in the U.S. speculate that monkeypox could be a new sexually transmitted disease. Officials estimate that there are 1.5 million Americans at risk.

Dr. Placide Mbala, a virologist who directs the global health department at Congo’s Institute of National Biomedical Research, said he hoped any global efforts to stop monkeypox would be equitable. Although many vaccine doses have been ordered by countries such as the United States, Canada and Germany, none has reached Africa.

“The solution needs to be global,”Mbala stated that vaccines sent to Africa would target the most vulnerable, such as hunters living in rural areas.

“Vaccination in the West might help stop the outbreak there, but there will still be cases in Africa,”He stated. “Unless the problem is solved here, the risk to the rest of the world will remain.”

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