Amid Spike In Monkeypox Cases, WHO Declares Health Emergency

WHO’s Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus revealed that the committee failed to establish a consensus when he announced his decision to declare the health emergency during a press conference in Geneva. 

New Delhi: According to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the quickly expanding monkeypox outbreak is a global health emergency, the organization’s highest degree of alert.

The WHO designation of a “public health emergency of international concern” is intended to raise awareness that a coordinated global response is required and may mobilise financing and international cooperation on the sharing of vaccinations and treatments.

Two sources who spoke to Reuters earlier on the condition of anonymity said that members of an expert committee who met on Thursday to discuss the potential recommendation were divided on the issue, but the director-general of the U.N. agency has the final say.

Tedros acknowledged that the committee had been unable to come to an agreement, with nine voting against and six voting in favour of the declaration during a press conference in Geneva when he announced his decision to proclaim the health emergency.

Tedros has historically agreed with expert committee decisions, but according to the sources, he likely chose to support the highest alert level because of worries about rising case rates and a lack of vaccines and treatments, despite the absence of a consensus.

Lawrence Gostin, a professor at Georgetown Law in Washington, D.C who follows the WHO, said he applauded the political bravery of the agency.

“It does nothing but burnish the stature of WHO. The right result is clear – not declaring an emergency at this point would be a historic missed opportunity.”

More than 16,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported so far this year in more than 75 different countries, with five fatalities occurring in Africa.

In the most current outbreak, outside of Africa where it is endemic, the viral disease, which spreads through close contact and typically results in flu-like symptoms and pus-filled skin lesions, has been primarily affecting men who have sex with men.

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