WHO declares monkeypox a global health emergency on Saturday, July 23. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “The global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern.”
Dr Tedros pointed out that a month after an Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations was convened to assess whether the multi-country monkeypox outbreak represented a public health emergency of international concern, the outbreak has continued to grow, and there are now more than 16,000 reported cases from 75 countries and territories, and five deaths.
The WHO chief said five elements were considered in deciding whether an outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern:
- The information provided by countries which in this case shows that this monkeypox virus has spread rapidly to many countries that have not seen it before
- The three criteria for declaring a public health emergency of international concern under the International Health Regulations, which have been met
- The advice of the Emergency Committee, which has not reached consensus
- Scientific principles, evidence and other relevant information which are currently insufficient and leave us with many unknowns
- The risk to human health, international spread and the potential for interference with international traffic
“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,” Dr Tedros said, adding, “There is also a clear risk of further international spread, although the risk of interference with international traffic remains low for the moment.”
“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,” the WHO chief said on Saturday.