The World Health Organization (WHO) activated its highest alert level for the growing monkeypox outbreak by declaring the virus a global health emergency on Saturday, July 23.
The global state of emergency is the highest level of alertness for the UN health agency. Now there are only two such international health emergencies, which are the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to eradicate polio.
In announcing the announcement, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the widespread outbreak of monkeypox in more than 70 countries, was an extraordinary situation that qualifies for designation as a public health emergency of international concern.
As reported by Saudi Gazette, it was the first time that a head of a UN health agency acted unilaterally in making this decision as Dr. Tedros took the decision to declare monkeypox a global health emergency despite the lack of consensus among experts on the UN health agency’s emergency committee.
In explaining his decision to act as a “tie-breaker”, Dr. Tedros said the advice from the emergency committee was only one of five elements he had to consider.
According to Dr. Tedros, the status of a global health emergency was designed by WHO with the aim of sounding the alarm for the coordinated international response needed to open up funding and global efforts to accelerate the development of vaccines and implement various measures to limit the spread of the virus.
Previously, the World Health Organization (WHO) emergency committee held another meeting regarding the monkeypox outbreak. During the meeting, experts from around the world gathered to check the latest information about this disease.
WHO’s Emergencies Chief, Dr. Michael Ryan said that the monkeypox outbreak was designated as a global emergency to ensure the world takes the current outbreaks seriously.
Although the declaration does not impose requirements on national governments and only serves as an urgent call to action, WHO has issued a number of recommendations that are expected to encourage member countries to take action to stop the transmission of the virus and protect those most at risk of exposure.
Dr. Tedros explained that the current cases of monkeypox are concentrated in men who have sex with men, especially those who have sex with new or multiple partners. Health officials recommend that people who are at high risk of exposure to monkeypox, including gay and bisexual men and also health workers, get the vaccine immediately.