The rapidly spreading Monkeypox outbreak represents a global health emergency, the World Health Organisation’s highest level of alert, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Saturday.
The WHO label, a ‘public health emergency of international concern’, is designed to sound an alarm that a coordinated international response is needed and could unlock funding and global efforts to collaborate on sharing vaccines and treatments.
Many have hailed the WHO’s decision saying not declaring an emergency at this point would be a historic missed opportunity.
As of now, there have been more than 16,000 cases of Monkeypox in more than 75 countries and five deaths in Africa.
The viral disease that spreads via close contact and tends to cause flu-like symptoms and pus-filled skin lesions has been spreading chiefly in men.
Indeed the cases or fatality is so far not high as we saw in the case of Covid-19 yet an emergency declaration would really help accelerate efforts to put a lid to it before much damage is caused.
Experts have also suggested this could become high if the virus exploits opportunity to establish itself as a human pathogen and spreads to groups at higher risk of severe diseases such as young children and immuno-suppressed persons.
Already on Friday, cases of Monkeypox in the US have been identified for the first time in children — a toddler in California and an infant who is not a US resident.
On July 14, the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention reported 11,000 confirmed cases in some 60 countries where Monkeypox is not usually found.
Most of the cases are in Europe, the US and Canada. The number of infections in New York has doubled in under a week to several hundred and people are standing in line for vaccines, which are in short supply.
In this backdrop, WHO decision is timely to save our people from another epidemic.
Efforts must be accelerated to ensure that people get timely vaccine.
We are confident that WHO will replicate the same level of success in the fight against Monkeypox that it showed against Covid-19.
Though no case of Monkeypox has so far been reported in Pakistan yet authorities should enhance level of vigilance to deal with this deadly disease.