“The outbreak of monkeypox is unusual and worrying,” said World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press conference on June 14.
“For that reason, I have decided to convene the Emergency Committee on International Health Regulations next week, to assess whether this outbreak is a public health emergency requiring international attention or not”, Medical Xpress quoted Mr. Tedros.
The declaration of an emerging disease as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) will serve as the basis for Member States to develop regulations, response plans and make necessary recommendations for the people. Covid-19 is a typical PHEIC.
The Emergency Committee is expected to meet on June 23. WHO is also working to change the name of the disease, which was previously endemic only in West and Central Africa.
According to Reuters news agency, WHO statistics show that so far this year, there have been 1,600 laboratory-confirmed cases and more than 1,500 other suspected cases reported in 39 countries so far this year, including 32 countries outside the endemic area.
There have been 72 confirmed deaths, all in West and Central Africa – the most common endemic region of the case, with the largest being Congo. The mortality rate of monkeypox is about 3-6%.
According to Medical Xpress, WHO is also reviewing a case in Brazil that is suspected to be the first death outside an endemic area.
To combat the global spread, WHO recommends that countries strengthen testing, surveillance, contact tracing and isolation measures for infected or suspected patients.
However, WHO does not recommend mass vaccination against smallpox (which prevents monkeypox). “Any decision about whether to use a vaccine should be made jointly by potentially at-risk individuals and their healthcare providers, based on an assessment of risks and benefits, on a case-by-case basis”, added Dr. Tedrods.
The head of WHO also stressed that vaccines must be provided equitably “wherever it is needed”.