Monkeypox outbreak a pandemic, says independent global health body WHN
- The World Health Network, an indepedent coalition of scientists, has declared the monkeypox outbreak a pandemic
- The WHN urged the WHO to do the same
- There have been at least 3,417 confirmed cases in 58 countries this year
The World Health Network (WHN), an independent coalition of scientists "formed as a people’s task force in response to the COVID-19 pandemic," has declared the global monkeypox outbreak a pandemic, urging the World Health Organization (WHO) to take similar steps.
In a press release on June 22, 2022, the WHN said that it was "declaring the current monkeypox outbreak a pandemic" in view of the 3,417 confirmed monkeypox cases across 58 countries, and with infections "rapidly expanding across multiple continents."
"The essential purpose of declaring a pandemic is to achieve a concerted effort across multiple countries or over the world to prevent widespread harm. The definition of a pandemic is an infectious disease growing over a wide area, crossing international boundaries, and usually affecting a large number of people. The accelerating growth across multiple continents, and the need for a concerted action to stop it, meets both the criteria, and the essential purpose, for declaration of a pandemic. Concerted global action is needed," the statement explained.
Meanwhile, epidemiologist Dr Eric Feigl-Ding, the co-founder of WHN, warned that hesitation to declare monkeypox a pandemic could lead to a repetition of what happened during the initial months of the COVID-19 outbreak.
"The WHO needs to urgently declare its own Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)—the lessons of not declaring a PHEIC immediately in early January 2020 should be remembered as a history lesson of what acting late on an epidemic can mean for the world," Feigl-Ding warned.
The WHN also proposed a set of measures that should be implemented by governments and public health authorities around the world, including widespread testing and contact tracing, isolated medical care for those infected, vaccination programmes for vulnerable communities, public awareness programmes for information dissemination, and greater allocation of funds to combat the monkeypox threat.
For those unaware, monkeypox is a viral infection that often causes skin scarring, and has the potential to be acutely painful, cause blindness, and even lead to death.
While fatality rates are less than that of small pox, monkeypox can be transmitted through a variety of modes, including physical contact with patients, contact with contaminated clothing and objects, breathing in airborne particles, and intimate contact such as sex.