The head of the World Health Organization said on Saturday that the monkey pandemic was a major concern and a growing threat but did not include the current global health crisis.
WHO Secretary – General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus convened a committee of experts on Thursday to advise him on whether to strike a strong warning to the United Nations Health Organization over the epidemic.
The increase in the number of monkey cases has been detected since the beginning of May outside West and Central Africa, where the disease has long been endemic. Most of the new cases have been in Western Europe.
More than 3,200 confirmed cases and one death have now been reported to the WHO from more than 50 countries this year.
“The emergency committee shared serious concerns about the scale and pace of the current epidemic,” pointing out many unknowns about the spread and gaps in the data, Tedros said.
“They pointed out to me that at the moment the event is not considered a public health concern of international concern (PHEIC), which is the highest alert level that the WHO can issue, but acknowledged that the committee’s announcement itself reflects growing concern about the global spread of monkey pox.”
Tedros said the epidemic was a “clearly growing health threat” that needed immediate action to stop further spread, using surveillance, contact flaking, isolation and patient care and ensuring that vaccines and treatments are available to at-risk groups.
“Intensive response” needed
“The vast majority of cases are seen among men who have sex with men, at a young age,” which appear mainly in urban areas, in “clustered social and sexual networks,” according to a WHO report from the meeting.
Although several members expressed different views, the committee unanimously decided to advise Tedros that at this stage the epidemic was not PHEIC.
“However, the committee unanimously acknowledged the emergencies of the event and to control the further spread of the epidemic requires a great deal of response.
They are on hold to reunite in the coming days and weeks as the epidemic progresses.
The committee suggested that countries improve analysis and risk communication.
It was noted that many aspects of the epidemic were unusual, but some members said there was a risk of persistent infection due to low resistance of the population to the vaccine virus infection.
The committee, which deals with the issue, is made up of 16 scientists and public health experts and is chaired by Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele, former director of the WHO Department of Vaccines and Vaccination.
Thursday’s five-hour private meeting was held in person at WHO’s headquarters in Geneva and through a video conference.
The committee discussed current observations in the highlands or possible reductions in the number of cases in some countries; difficulties in tracing contact due to anonymous contacts and ‘possible links to international gatherings and LGBTQ + Pride events that promote increased opportunities for exposure through close sexual contact.
They were also concerned that possible stigmatization of the groups concerned could prevent a response.
There is a lack of knowledge about the methods of infection, the period of infection, as well as access to vaccines and antiviral drugs and their effectiveness, they said.
The normal onset symptoms of monkey pox include high fever, swollen lymph nodes and chickenpox-like rash.
Initial cases that broke out had no epidemiological link to areas that have historically reported monkey pests, suggesting that undiagnosed infections may have been present for some time.
Few have been hospitalized so far, but 10 cases have been reported among healthcare professionals.
The World Health Organization’s current plan to curb the spread is aimed at raising awareness among the relevant population groups and encouraging safe behavior and protection measures.
There have been six PHEIC statements since 2009, the last being due to COVID-19 in 2020 – although a slow international response to the warning bell is still ringing at WHO headquarters.
PHEIC was announced after the third emergency committee meeting on January 30. But it was not until after March 11, when Tedros described the rapidly deteriorating situation as a pandemic, that many countries seemed to wake up to the danger.
WHO says Monkeypox is not a global health condition
Source link WHO says Monkeypox is not a global health condition