Today the WHO decision on whether to declare a global state of emergency for smallpox

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The World Health Organization will decide today whether to declare monkey pox a global health emergency, prompting a backlash from African scientists who say their region has been facing the crisis for years.

Discussions and close monitoring of how the WHO handles monkey pox follow concerns about the’s management and governments around the world of the covid-19 pandemic in early 2020.

Smallpox does not spread as easily as covid and there are vaccines and treatments for the disease, which was not the case with the new coronavirus when it first appeared. However, it has caused concern.

So far, outside Africa, where the disease is endemic, more than 3,000 cases have been reported since May in more than 40 countries, according to a Reuters count. These mainly concern men who have homosexual sexual intercourse, while no deaths have been reported.

The viral disease that causes flu-like and cutaneous symptoms is endemic in some parts of Africa. More than 1,500 suspected cases have been recorded on the continent since the beginning of 2022, of which 66 were fatal, according to official figures.

“When a disease affects developing countries, it is not an emergency. It only becomes an emergency when developed countries are affected,” said Professor Emanuel Nakune, acting director of the Pasteur Institute in Bangui, Central African Republic. for the smallpox of monkeys.

Nakude added, however, that if the WHO declares a “global health emergency”, the highest level of alert would be an important step.

“If there is a political will to share equally the means of dealing between developed and developing countries (…) all countries will be able to benefit,” he added.

The emergency committee is meeting today with experts from the worst-hit areas, who have consulted scientists such as Nakude. They will make a recommendation to WHO Director-General of the Tentros Antanom Gebregesos, who will make the final decision on whether to declare a state of emergency.

This announcement is mainly aimed at ringing the alarm bell, with the body being able to issue more instructions for the disease.

Most experts agree that monkey pox meets the criteria for declaring a state of emergency of universal interest by the WHO. It is a sudden and unusual event that is spreading internationally and requires the cooperation of states.

But the WHO is in a difficult position after covid, said Claire Wegham, professor of global health at the London School of Economics.

“If a state of emergency is declared and countries do not take action, the WHO’s role in disease control may be undermined,” he said. “They will be in a difficult position whether they do it or not,” he said.


Source: Capital

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