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Monkeypox Declared a World Health Emergency

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On Saturday, the head of the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a global health emergency following a surge in cases. One such case was recorded in Thailand this week.

The classification is the highest level of alert that the WHO can issue. WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said more than 16,000 cases had been reported from 75 countries, including Thailand.

Currently, there are only two other such health emergencies – the Coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing fight against polio.

In June, Tedros acknowledged that WHO experts could not reach a consensus on whether monkeypox constitutes a global emergency, but the agency said it would proceed with the declaration.

As a result of the new alert, a coordinated international response may unlock funding and global collaboration on vaccines and treatments.

Outside West and Central African countries where monkeypox has long been endemic, monkeypox infections have surged since early May.

Thailand’s First Case of Monkeypox

This week, a 27-year-old Nigerian man in Phuket became the first known case of monkeypox in Thailand.

A hospital examined him and advised him to quarantine at his condominium, but he left the island after that. Saturday afternoon, he was arrested in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh.

An emergency committee of WHO experts convened on June 23 to decide whether monkeypox constitutes a PHEIC – its highest alert level.

The majority advised Tedros that the situation did not meet the threshold then.

After a second meeting on Thursday, Tedros expressed concern over the growing number of cases.

He asked the meeting, which lasted more than 6 hours, for advice in assessing the public health implications.

Late Friday, a US health expert issued a grim warning.

Since the last #monkeypox EC a few weeks ago, there has been an exponential rise in cases. As the months and weeks progress, the number of cases will inevitably rise dramatically. As a result, @DrTedros must sound the global alarm,” said Lawrence Gostin, director of the WHO Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law.

Global health will suffer grave consequences if we fail to act.”

Discrimination should be avoided

In 1970, monkeypox was first detected in humans, but it is less dangerous and contagious than smallpox, which was eradicated in 1980.

An extensive study of 528 people in 16 countries published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that 95 percent of cases were transmitted through sexual activity.

Approximately a third of those infected had visited sex-on-site venues like sex parties or saunas within the previous month, and 98% were homosexual men.

“This transmission pattern presents both an opportunity to implement targeted public health interventions, as well as a challenge because, in some countries, those affected face life-threatening discrimination,” Tedros noted, citing concerns that stigma and scapegoating could hinder outbreak tracking.

It is extremely important for me to consider many factors when making decisions regarding the possibility of declaring a Public Health Emergency of International Concern,” he said.

It has been recommended for approval that Imnavex, a vaccine for smallpox, be used in the treatment of monkeypox in the European Union on Friday.

A Danish drugmaker, Bavarian Nordic, has been approved to prevent smallpox with Imvanex since 2013. Due to the similarity between monkeypox and smallpox, it was also considered a possible vaccine.

A fever, headache, muscle pain, and back pain are the first symptoms of monkeypox during the first five days. Afterward, rashes appear on the face, palms of hands, and soles of feet, followed by lesions, spots, and finally scabs.