Over 16,800 Monkeypox Cases in Prompts WHO to Declare Global Emergency

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Courtesy of U.S. Mission Geneva (Flickr CC0)

With more than 16,800 monkeypox cases outside of Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated the virus as a global emergency, alongside the COVID-19 pandemic, Zika, H1N1, and crises in the Greater Horn of Africa, Afghanistan, and Syria, and more. The Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) will trigger an internationally coordinated response. It could also unlock money to allow for collaboration on sharing vaccine and treatment inventories, according to Reuters.

The International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) Emergency Committee convened a second meeting to discuss the multi-country outbreak of monkeypox on July 21, 2022. At the end of the seven-hour session, the Committee Members had not agreed on declaring a PHEIC for this event, with nine against and six in favor.

Courtesy of U.N. Geneva (Flickr CC0)

Nonetheless, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus did announce the declaration. He did so after he considered the Committee Members and Advisors’ views “as well as other factors,” according to the committee report.

It is the WHO’s judgment that there is a moderate risk of monkeypox globally, except for the high risk in the European Region and the Region of the Americas, Ghebreyesus said. “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,” he added.

During the meeting, attendees were presented with the global epidemiological situation: Between January 1 and July 20, there were 14,533 probable and laboratory-confirmed monkeypox cases from 72 reporting nations in all of the WHO Regions. There was a significant increase during the last three months of the reports: 11,493 cases, with 25 countries reporting for the first time.

Before this outbreak, most monkeypox cases were reported in countries where it is endemic: The virus re-emerged after 40 years in Nigeria in 2017, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC).

Currently, most monkeypox cases are reported in males: Most of these are among men who identified as gay or bisexual and other men who have sex with other men (MSM) in urban areas. Their social and sexual networks are interlinked. Recently, reports of infections in women and children caused the further need for an emergency declaration.

Written by Cathy Milne-Ware


WHO: Second meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) Emergency Committee regarding the multi-country outbreak of monkeypox
Reuters: WHO declares global health emergency over monkeypox outbreak; by Natalie Grover, John Revill, and Jennifer Rigby
ABC News: WHO declares monkeypox outbreak to be public health emergency of international concern; by Arielle Mitropoulos, Mary Kekatos, and Meredith Deliso
The New York Times: W.H.O. Declares Monkeypox Spread a Global Health Emergency; by Apoorva Mandavilli
AXIOS: What we know about the new monkeypox outbreak; by Eileen Drage O’Reilly

Featured and Top Image by Eric Brinders Courtesy of U.S. Mission Geneva’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image by Elma Okic Courtesy of U.N. Geneva’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License


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