Committee members could already announce their decision on Friday whether or not the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, but meanwhile, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the spread of the disease in both non-endemic and endemic countries , “cannot be ignored”.
The first mysterious cluster appeared in the UK just over six weeks ago, when the WHO was told of a family cluster of three cases, with no recent travel.
“More than 3,200 confirmed cases of monkeypox and one death have been reported to the WHO since then, from 48 countries, including Nigeria, and in five WHO regions,” Tedros said.
The outbreak in newly affected countries continues to be prevalent among men who have sex with men and who have reported recent sex with new or multiple partners, he added.
Lack of understanding
†Person-to-person transmission is ongoing and probably underestimated† In Nigeria, the proportion of women affected is much higher than elsewhere, and it is crucial to better understand how the disease spreads therethe WHO chief said.
He said nearly 1,500 suspected cases of Monkeypox and about 70 deaths have been reported in central Africa so far this year, mainly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), but also in the Central African Republic and Cameroon.
“Few of these cases have been confirmed and little is known about their circumstances. Although the epidemiology and viral clade may be different in these cases, it is a situation that cannot be ignored†
Sharing information, saving lives
He outlined several requests to the Member States to share all information in the future. He said in some other outbreaks, “we have sometimes seen the consequences of countries not being transparentof not sharing information.”
He called for case finding, contact tracing, laboratory testing, genome sequencing and implementation of infection prevention and control measures. WHO also needs clear case definitions to help identify and report infections.
And the WHO chief said all countries “had to” remain vigilant and strengthen their capacities to prevent further transmission of Monkeypox. It is likely that many countries have missed opportunities to identify casesincluding cases in the community with no recent travel.”
The WHO’s goal is to support countries to contain the transmission and stop the outbreak with established public health tools, including surveillance, contact tracing and isolation of infected patients.
Risks to health professionals
Tedros said there are also “some risks to health workers if they don’t wear appropriate personal protective equipment.
“So, while the majority of cases so far in newly affected countries have been identified in men who have sex with men, the WHO has called for intensified surveillance in the wider community.”
We’ve learned a lot from recent outbreaks, including COVID-19 and the global HIV epidemic, he told the assembled scientists, but one of the most important was to work closely with those communities “to work together to ensure effective risk communication. That is what the WHO does.”
Tackling stigma, disinformation
Tedros said it was essential to tackle stigma, discrimination and misinformationin the Monkeypox, and other outbreaks, quickly and resolutely.
“We also need to work together as an international community to generate the necessary clinical efficacy and safety data on vaccines and therapies against Monkeypox, and to ensure their equitable distribution.”