Health
WHO declares expanding monkeypox outbreak a global emergency

WHO declares expanding monkeypox outbreak a global emergency

The World Health Organization said on Saturday that the expanding monkeypox outbreak in more than 70 countries is an “extraordinary” situation that now qualifies as a global emergency, a declaration that could spur further investment in treating the once-rare disease and worsen the scramble for scarce vaccines.

WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the decision to issue the declaration despite a lack of consensus among members of WHO’s emergency committee. It was the first time the chief of the United Nations health agency has taken such an action.

“We have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly through new modes of transmission about which we understand too little and which meets the criteria in the international health regulations,” Tedros said.

“I know this has not been an easy or straightforward process and that there are divergent views among the members” of the committee.

Although monkeypox has been established in parts of central and west Africa for decades, it was not known to spark large outbreaks beyond the continent or to spread widely among people until May, when authorities detected dozens of epidemics in Europe, North America and elsewhere.

Declaring a global emergency means the monkeypox outbreak is an “extraordinary event” that could spill over into more countries and requires a co-ordinated global response.

WHO previously declared emergencies for public health crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2014 West African Ebola outbreak, the Zika virus in Latin America in 2016 and the ongoing effort to eradicate polio.

More to come

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