By Chioma Obinna
The World Health Organisation, WHO, weekend declared that Monkeypox is not an international public health emergency.
The announcement comes two days after WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus convened an Emergency Committee on the disease, under the International Health Regulations (IHR), to address the rising caseload.
In Nigeria, a total of 41 confirmed cases have been recorded out of the 162 suspected cases since January this year, according to the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa.
According to WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus who expressed worry about the surge of the outbreak of the disease said the monkeypox outbreak was clearly an evolving health threat that they are following extremely closely.
Although there were other views in a separate statement the WHO Committee agreed that at the moment the outbreak was not a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
Monkeypox, a viral illness causing flu-like symptoms and skin lesions, has been spreading largely in men who have sex with men outside the countries where it is endemic.
The “global emergency” label currently only applies to the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing efforts to eradicate polio, and the U.N. agency has stepped back from applying it to the monkeypox outbreak after advice from a meeting of international experts. The WHO Director-General concurs with the advice offered by the IHR Emergency Committee regarding the multi-country monkeypox outbreak and, at present, does not determine that the event constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
The PHEIC declaration is the highest level of global alert, which currently applies only to the COVID-19 pandemic and polio. Since May, more than 3,200 cases have emerged in 48 countries, many of which have never previously reported the disease.
The highest numbers are currently in Europe, and most cases are among men who have sex with men. So far this year almost 1,500 cases and 70 deaths in central Africa, where the disease is more common, have also been reported, chiefly in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
There are vaccines and treatments available for monkeypox, although they are in limited supply.