W.H.O. Declares Monkeypox Spread a Global Health Emergency
As World Health Organization (WHO) advisers reached a stalemate, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus intervened to declare a "public health emergency of international concern" around the spread of monkeypox. The virus is endemic to Africa but at least 16,000 cases, primarily among men who have sex with men, have occurred in recent weeks elsewhere around the globe. Despite the growing incidence since they last met in June, WHO advisers remained undecided on whether to elevate the situation to the level of an international emergency — a term the organization currently uses to describe only COVID-19 and polio. Tedros, suggesting that WHO's process for deciding what qualifies for the designation needs to be refined, overrode the panel to make the decision himself. "We have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly through new modes of transmission, about which we understand too little, and which meets the criteria" for a public health emergency, he stated. The designation can trigger more funding, resource sharing, and coordinated efforts to control an outbreak. Some experts, however, worry that the WHO missed a critical window of opportunity to rein in the spread, which could now take a year or longer to control, by one estimate.
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