MPox is no longer a global health emergency: World Health Organization

The World Health Organization announced the end of a 10-month-long global health emergency for mpox, on Thursday (May 11). This comes nearly a year after the disease formerly known as monkeypox started spreading globally with confirmed cases in more than a hundred countries. 

The announcement by the WHO director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, came after the recommendation of the organisation’s emergency committee, which met on Wednesday. The organisation had first declared mpox a public health emergency of international concern in July 2022 and reiterated its stance in November and February. 

The cases of the viral disease which spreads through direct contact with body fluids were first spotted in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo region. Since then, the disease has spread among humans but has, for the most part, been limited to certain West and Central African nations.

However, last May, cases of the disease began spreading rapidly around the world which prompted WHO to make it a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). The announcement also comes nearly a week after the organisation announced that COVID-19 is no longer a global health emergency. 

“However, as with Covid-19, that does not mean that the work is over,” said Tedros. He added, “While the emergencies of mpox and Covid-19 are both over, the threat of resurgent waves remains for both. Both viruses continue to circulate and both continue to kill.”

During his online press conference, Tedros also said that the disease remains a threat, particularly in areas of Africa where it has long been endemic. According to the WHO data, more than 87,000 cases and 140 deaths have been reported from 111 countries during the outbreak of the disease which causes fever, muscular aches and large boil-like skin lesions. 

According to the WHO chief, almost 90 per cent fewer cases were recorded over the last three months compared to the previous three-month period. “We now see steady progress in controlling the outbreak based on the lessons of HIV and working closely with the most affected communities,” said Tedros, as quoted by news agency AFP. 

In reference to the stigma related to mpox, as global cases were overwhelmingly among men who have sex with men, Tedros said that while it was a “driving concern in managing this epidemic and continues to hamper access to care for mpox, the feared backlash against the most affected communities has largely not materialised.” 

(With inputs from agencies) 


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