The World Health Organisation has sounded the highest alarm on monkeypox as it declared the disease a global health emergency. The rare viral disease – endemic to central and western African countries – has now affected nearly 17,000 people in 74 countries.
Speaking at a press conference, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “I have decided that the global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern.”
“WHO’s assessment is that the risk of monkeypox is moderate globally and in all regions, except in the European region where we assess the risk as high,” he added.
Here are the top 10 points on the monkeypox disease:
1)The world health body has classified the monkeypox outbreak as a “public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC)”.
2) A PHEIC label applies to an extraordinary event that carries a public-health risk via the international spread of a disease. It is designed to trigger a coordinated international response.
3) The declaration from Tedros could pave the way for global cooperation to stop the spread of the virus, but underscores divisions within the organisation over the severity of the threat.
4) Washington has welcomed the WHO’s declaration as “a call to action for the world community to stop the spread of this virus”.
“A coordinated, international response is essential to stop the spread of monkeypox, protect communities at greatest risk of contracting the disease, and combat the current outbreak,” said Raj Panjabi, senior director for the White House’s global health security and biodefence division.
5) According to a tally by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published on July 22, monkeypox has affected more than 16,800 people in 74 countries.
6) India too has reported three cases of the viral disease so far, all from Kerala.
7) On Friday, the United States identified its first two monkeypox cases in children.
8) According to WHO, a large number of cases occurred in people between the ages of 31 to 40, and a majority of them were in male patients.
9) It has also been found that 98 per cent of infected people were gay or bisexual men, and around a third were known to have visited sex-on-site venues such as sex parties or saunas within the previous month.
10) The European Union drug regulator has recommended the use of smallpox vaccine ‘Imvanex’ to treat monkeypox. Imvanex, developed by Danish drugmaker Bavarian Nordic, has been approved in the EU since 2013 for the prevention of smallpox. It was also considered a potential vaccine for monkeypox because of the similarity between the monkeypox virus and the smallpox virus.
(With agency inputs)