The epidemic of monkeypox has been deemed a public health emergency of global concern by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Following the Thursday meeting of WHO’s second emergency committee on the matter, the decision was made public on Saturday morning.
“I have decided that the global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced on Saturday morning.
Tedros claimed that despite the committee’s inability to agree, he arrived at his conclusion after taking into account the five factors necessary to determine whether an outbreak qualifies as a public health emergency of international importance. “For the moment, this outbreak is concentrated among men who have sex with men, especially those who have multiple partners,” he continued, “which means that this is an outbreak that can be stopped with the right strategies in the right right groups.” He went on to declare monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern.
Following its initial emergency committee meeting on June 23, WHO originally refrained from designating the monkeypox outbreak as a public health emergency of worldwide concern. While acknowledging the “developing health hazard” that WHO would be closely monitoring, Tedros stated at the time that the emergency committee had advised that for the time being, “the occurrence does not constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.”
An extraordinary incident that poses a “public health risk to other States through the international transmission of illness” and “may potentially necessitate a coordinated worldwide response” is what the World Health Organization refers to as a “public health emergency of international concern,” or PHEIC.
When the organization’s emergency monkeypox committee initially met in late June, its members expressed grave concerns about the scope and pace of the viral outbreak but insisted that it did not amount to a PHEIC. According to Tedros, the committee was reassembled so that it could present the most recent facts. The International Health Regulations, which were established in 2005, are the source of the PHEIC designation, which stands for an international agreement to assist in preventing and addressing public health concerns that have the potential to spread globally.
The rules are described as following by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as “196 nations have signed a binding agreement to develop the capacity to identify and report potential global public health emergencies. IHR stipulate that all nations must be able to identify, evaluate, communicate, and react to public health emergencies.” There are currently two public health crises: polio, which started in 2014, and Covid-19, which will start in 2020.
Since the laws were implemented, there have been four further PHEICs: the H1N1 flu in 2009 and 2010, the Ebola virus in 2014, 2016, and 2019–2020, and the Zika virus in 2016. Data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that approximately 2,800 monkeypox cases are currently suspected or confirmed in 44 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico. Over 16,500 cases have been documented across 74 countries globally.