Monkeypox has spread to dozens of nations in just a few weeks, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a worldwide emergency as a result. To date, there have been more than 16,000 cases outside of Africa.
Only COVID-19 and polio have the label of “public health emergency of international concern,” which was used by WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus today.
An epidemic that is escalating globally
According to Tedros, we have an outbreak that has swiftly expanded throughout the globe through new routes of transmission, about which we know much too little, and that “fits the criteria” for a public health emergency.
It was the first time that the organization’s director general had to declare a public health emergency against the advice of his advisors since the committee was unable to reach an agreement.
The group had previously stated in May that although quick action is required, the sickness could be contained.
At the time, Sylvie Briand, WHO director for global infectious hazard preparedness, had said to the U.N. organization’s annual assembly, “We think that if we put in place the necessary safeguards now, we probably can contain this quickly.” “We don’t know if there are many more incidents in communities that are not being reported, or if we are only witnessing the tip of the iceberg.”
In order to control the outbreak, Briand said, “For us, we think that the primary focus today is attempting to prevent this transmission in non-endemic countries.” He also stressed the importance of early case discovery, isolation of cases, and contact tracing.
But is it actually a crisis for public health?
Despite the fact that there are now five times as many cases as there were when the WHO examined the outbreak back in June, several experts disagree with Tedros’ choice. These experts have criticized the procedure for being unduly cautious and shortsighted.
However, some people disagree, arguing that the new declaration is “better late than never,” including Dr. Boghuma Titanji, an infectious diseases specialist at Emory University in Atlanta.”
According to Titanji, who spoke to The New York Times, “one can argue that the response globally has continued to suffer from a lack of coordination with separate countries working at very different paces to solve the problem.”
The fact that we are unable to prevent the monkeypox virus from doing so more permanently “nearly amounts to capitulation,” she continued.
It can be challenging to determine when a virus warrants the declaration of a public health emergency, but when it comes to diseases, it seems prudent to err on the side of caution. After all, we wouldn’t want a virus to get out of control only to learn that an emergency alert should have been issued.