The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially declared the monkeypox outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), according to the organization’s Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The decision was made after WHO’s expert team held a second meeting in order to discuss the situation even though the Emergency Committe didn’t reach a consensus.
“In short, we have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly, through new modes of transmission, about which we understand too little,” Tedros said.
Tedros also made it clear that for the time being the monkeypox outbreak is “concentrated among men who have sex with men, especially those with multiple sexual partners.”
“That means that this is an outbreak that can be stopped with the right strategies in the right groups,” he added.
The WHO boss also called for all countries to “work closely with communities of men who have sex with men,” and protect both the health, human rights, and dignity of affected communities.
He also called on “civil society organizations, including those with experience in working with people living with HIV” to fight stigma and discrimination.
The current global Monkeypox outbreak has affected nearly 17,000 people in about 74 countries and is said to be primarily driven by male sexual practices according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday.
In the study, it was indicated that 98% of those with the infection were gay or bisexual men, 75% were White, and 41% had a human immunodeficiency virus infection, reporting 528 infections diagnosed between the month of April 27th and June 24th, 2022 at over 43 sites in about 16 countries.
“The simultaneous identification of cases outside areas where monkeypox has traditionally been endemic highlights the need for rapid identification and diagnosis of cases to contain further community spread,” it concluded.
This monkeypox virus-induced outbreak is the latest PHEIC declared by the WHO following H1N1 in 2009, Polio and Ebola in 2014, Zika virus in 2016, Kivu Ebola in 2019, and COVID-19 in January 2020.