Who Declares Mpox No Longer A Global Health Emergency
In a significant development, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that mpox, formerly known as monkeypox, no longer poses a global health emergency. The declaration comes almost a year after the disease started spreading globally. While case numbers have significantly declined worldwide, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus emphasized that mpox remains a threat, particularly in parts of Africa where it has been endemic for a long time. This announcement comes on the heels of another declaration by the UN agency, stating that Covid-19 no longer constitutes a public health emergency of international concern. Tedros highlighted that the work is far from over for both mpox and Covid-19, as the possibility of resurgent waves remains a concern. Both viruses continue to circulate and claim lives, requiring ongoing vigilance. Although certain countries in Central and West Africa have experienced local mpox outbreaks for decades, last May marked the emergence of cases in Europe, North America, and other regions, primarily among men who have sex with men. The WHO declared mpox a public health emergency in July. Since then, the number of cases has consistently decreased. According to WHO data, over 87,000 cases and 140 deaths have been reported across 111 countries during the global outbreak. The countries most affected by the mpox global outbreak include the United States, Brazil, Spain, France, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and the UK. The monkeypox virus, responsible for causing mpox disease, was first identified in humans in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1970. Until last year, its transmission among humans had mostly been limited to specific nations in West and Central Africa, where local outbreaks were believed to be caused by the virus spillover from small animals. Rosamund Lewis, the WHO's technical lead on monkeypox, emphasized that the countries grappling with mpox had been dealing with the disease long before the global outbreak and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. It is concerning, however, that little international funding has been allocated to combat mpox in the African countries where it is endemic. WHO emergencies director Mike Ryan expressed shock at the lack of support, suggesting that it might stem from persisting prejudices in the world. With the lifting of the emergency status for both Covid-19 and mpox, only one disease remains classified as a public health emergency of international concern by the WHO—poliovirus, which was declared in May 2014. The focus now shifts to sustained efforts to combat these diseases and prevent future outbreaks, ensuring the health and well-being of communities worldwide.