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Is Monkeypox a global health emergency?  WHO experts divided over decision: report

The WHO is due to hold a press conference at 13:00 GMT today to announce the decision.


Members of a World Health Organization (WHO) expert panel are divided on whether the monkeypox outbreak represents a global health emergency, but the agency’s chief executive could still issue high alert on Saturday, two sources familiar with the decision told Reuters.

The committee, which met on Thursday, provides advice to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is responsible for making the final decision on whether to declare a global health emergency.

In the past, Tedros has always followed the committee’s recommendation, but the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was seriously considering declaring the agency’s highest level of alert despite the lack of majority opinion due to concern about urgency. of the situation.

The WHO is due to hold a press conference at 13:00 GMT on Saturday to announce its final decision.

The label – a “public health emergency of international concern” – currently only applies to the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing efforts to eradicate polio.

In recent weeks, pressure has grown from scientists and public health experts for the WHO and national governments to take more action against monkeypox. More than 14,000 cases have been reported and five deaths in 71 WHO member states.

When the committee first met in late June, there were only about 3,000 cases.

The WHO alert serves to sound the alarm and can also unlock funding and global efforts to collaborate on sharing vaccines and treatments.

There are already effective treatments and vaccines for monkeypox, but they are rare. The WHO has also already provided guidance and updates since the outbreak began in early May.

At the first meeting of the expert committee, the group said it would reconsider its position on declaring an emergency if the outbreak worsens.

In Europe and the United States, cases have almost entirely been reported in men who have sex with men, and the committee has also said it will reconsider whether other groups start reporting cases, particularly men who have sex with men. children or others more vulnerable to the virus in past outbreaks in endemic countries.

On Friday, the United States identified its first two cases of monkeypox in children.

Any changes to the virus itself, which is spread through close contact and causes lesions and flu-like symptoms, could also trigger a reshaping, the committee said.

The group is now split between those who think an emergency declaration would speed up efforts to contain the disease, and those who don’t think it meets the criteria because it hasn’t yet spread to new groups of people. people or has a high death rate, the sources said.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)


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