WHO upgrades monkeypox to global public health emergency, ‘now a pandemic’


World Health Organization (WHO) has officially declared the monkeypox virus outbreak across the world as a global health emergency.


Declaring the monkeypox as global pandemic, Saturday, the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu, said the disease is now designated as a public health emergency.

The monkeypox disease was previously considered an African traditional endemic outbreak by the world health body.

The disease is a rare viral zoonotic infectious disease transmitted from animals to humans that occur sporadically, primarily in remote villages of Central and West Africa near tropical rainforests.

Currently, there are over 16,000 cases of the monkeypox globally, with 2,891 cases confirmed in the United States.

As at July 8, this year, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had confirmed 84 fresh cases of the disease in the country, as two more fatalities have been recorded bringing the total number of death from the infection to three in the country.

The agency noted that three deaths have been recorded from the beginning of the year to July 3.

With this status, monkeypox now shares similar status with other global health emergencies like the Covid-19, flu, birdflu, and other health pandemics.

“I have decided that the global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern,” said Dr. Tedros.

According to the WHO chief, the monkeypox outbreak is spreading quickly, presenting a ‘clear risk of further international spread.’

Public health emergency declaration still comes even though the WHO emergency committee had failed to reach a consensus on whether to issue or not to issue the emergency declaration.

Issuing a Public Health Emergency of International Concern enhances coordination and sharing of resources and information among nations.

Though Monkeypox vaccines are available, their supplies are very limited.

Since early May 2022, cases of monkeypox have been reported from countries where the disease is not endemic, and continue to be reported in several endemic countries.

Most confirmed cases with travel history reported travel to countries in Europe and North America, rather than West or Central Africa where the monkeypox virus is endemic. This is the first time that many monkeypox cases and clusters have been reported concurrently in non-endemic and endemic countries in widely disparate geographical areas.

Most reported cases so far have been identified through sexual health or other health services in primary or secondary health-care facilities and have involved mainly, but not exclusively, men who have sex with men.

In Nigeria, the NCDC, in its latest monkeypox situation report for Week 26, confirmed that no fewer than 245 suspected cases of the disease have been reported in the country.

“There were 41 suspected cases reported in Epi week 26, 2022 ( June 27 to July 3, 2022) from 20 states – Nasarawa (6), Lagos (4), Delta (4), Adamawa (3), Ondo (3), Borno (2), Ebonyi (2), Edo (2), Kwara (2), Oyo (2), Taraba (2), Akwa Ibom (1), Cross River (1), Benue (1), FCT (1), Kano (1), Kebbi (1), Ogun (1), Plateau (1), and Rivers (1),” the NCDC disclosed.

The agency said out of the 41 suspected cases, there were 21 new positive cases in the reported week from 11 states – Nasarawa (4), Adamawa (3), Borno (2), Delta (2), Edo (2), Kwara (2), Lagos (2), FCT (1), Ondo (1), Plateau (1), and Rivers (1).

The centre added: “From January 1 to July 3, 2022, there have been 245 suspected cases and 84 confirmed cases (57 male, 27 female) from 21 states -Lagos (13), Adamawa (9), Delta (7), Nasarawa (7), Edo (6), Rivers (6), Bayelsa (5), Plateau (5), FCT (5), Cross River (3), Kwara (3), Borno (2), Imo (2), Kano (2), Ondo (2), Taraba (2), Anambra (1), Katsina (1), Niger (1), Oyo (1), and Ogun (1). Three deaths were recorded.

“Overall and since the re-emergence of monkeypox from September 2017 to July 3, 2022, a total of 757 suspected cases have been reported from 34 states in the country.”

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