World Health Organization declares monkeypox a global public health emergency

Outbreak "meets the criteria" for WHO declaration, director-general claims.

Published: July 23, 2022 10:44am

Updated: July 23, 2022 10:51am

The World Health Organization this week officially declared the monkeypox outbreak a global public health emergency, a move that comes after several months of the virus's having spread to dozens of countries around the world. 

The WHO said on its website on Saturday that organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus "has determined that the multi-country outbreak of monkeypox constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern."

In a statement to press, Ghebreyesus said that the monkeypox virus "has spread around the world rapidly, through new modes of transmission, about which we understand too little, and which meets the criteria" for the organization's declaration. 

The director-general noted that the WHO's Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulation was "unable to reach a consensus" on whether to make the declaration itself, compelling Ghebreyesus to make the declaration on his own. 

"[W]ith the tools we have right now, we can stop transmission and bring this outbreak under control," he said. 

The virus, which has largely spread among gay men in the countries in which it has been detected, is overwhelmingly non-fatal; of the 16,000 reported cases worldwide there have reportedly been only three deaths.

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