Political organization

Monkeypox has been designated as a global health emergency by the World Health Organization.

At a media event in Geneva, the WHO’s Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced his decision to declare a health emergency, confirming that the committee had failed to reach an agreement, with nine members opposing the announcement and six favorable.

The fast-growing monkeypox outbreak is a global health emergency, according to World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The WHO’s designation of a “public health emergency of international concern” aims to raise awareness that a coordinated global response is needed, potentially unlocking global funding and efforts to collaborate on sharing vaccines and treatments. .

Members of a panel of experts who met on Thursday to consider the potential proposal were divided over the choice, two sources told Reuters earlier, although the final decision rests with the UN agency’s chief executive. .

At a press conference in Geneva to announce his decision to declare a health emergency, Tedros acknowledged that the committee had failed to strike an agreement, with nine members opposing the announcement and six in favor.

Previously, Tedros had normally backed the decisions of the expert panel, but sources said he likely chose to back the highest alert level due to concerns over rising case rates and a shortage. of vaccines and treatments, despite the absence of a majority opinion.

The fast-growing monkeypox outbreak is a global health emergency, according to World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The WHO’s designation of a “public health emergency of international concern” aims to raise awareness that a coordinated global response is needed, potentially unlocking global funding and efforts to collaborate on sharing vaccines and treatments. .

Members of a panel of experts who met on Thursday to consider the potential proposal were divided over the choice, two sources told Reuters earlier, although the final decision rests with the UN agency’s chief executive. .

Tedros said the committee did not declare a health emergency during a press conference in Geneva.

Previously, Tedros had normally backed the decisions of the expert panel, but sources said he likely chose to back the highest alert level due to concerns over rising case rates and a shortage. of vaccines and treatments, despite the absence of a majority opinion.

Lawrence Gostin, a law professor at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, who studies the WHO, praised the organization’s political boldness.

“It only enhances the reputation of the WHO. The correct result is obvious: not declaring an emergency at this time would be a historic mistake. »

This year, around 16,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported in 75 countries, including five deaths in Africa. Among the new outbreak, the viral disease, which is spread through intimate contact and causes flu-like symptoms and pus-filled skin lesions, has spread mainly among men who have sex with men outside the home. Africa, where it is common.

Scientists and public health professionals have lobbied the WHO and national governments to take greater action against monkeypox.

Since the committee first met in late June, when there were only around 3,000 cases, the number of cases of the viral illness has skyrocketed.

The expert committee decided at the time to reassess its views on declaring an emergency if the outbreak worsens.

One of the main considerations driving the reassessment was whether the infections, which almost completely affect men who have sex with men, will spread to other populations, including minors or people who have been vulnerable to the virus. in previous epidemics in endemic countries.

The United States detected its first two cases of monkeypox in young people on Friday.

According to the committee, any changes to the virus itself could potentially prompt a reconsideration.

According to the sources, the group is currently divided between those who believe an emergency declaration will speed up efforts to contain the outbreak and others who believe the aforementioned requirements have not been met because the disease is not s has not yet spread to new groups of individuals or has not had a high mortality rate.