WHO Says Mpox No Longer a Global Health Emergency

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Tedros said there were 90 percent fewer mpox cases reported over the last three months compared to the previous 90 days.

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Thursday it is ending a 10-month-long global health emergency for mpox, a viral disease that led to confirmed cases in more than 100 countries.

Last July, WHO declared mpox, previously known as monkeypox, a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). It backed its stand in November and February

A PHEIC creates an agreement between countries to abide by WHO’s recommendations for managing the emergency. Each country, in turn, declares its own public health emergency – declarations that carry legal weight. Countries use them to marshal resources and waive rules in order to ease a crisis.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared Thursday the end of the emergency status for the disease based on the recommendation of the organisation’s emergency committee, which met this week.

“The emergency committee for mpox met and recommended to me that the multi-country outbreak of mpox no longer represents a public health emergency of international concern. I have accepted that advice and I’m pleased to declare that the mpox is no longer a global health emergency,” Tedros said, noting the decision was prompted by falling case numbers worldwide.

“However, as with Covid-19, that does not mean that the work is over. Mpox continues to pose significant public health challenges that need a robust, proactive, and sustainable response,” he added.

Tedros said the disease remained a threat, particularly in areas of Africa where it has long been present, and urged countries to maintain their testing capacity and ability to respond to future outbreaks quickly.

The announcement came just a week after the UN agency also declared that COVID-19 no longer constituted a PHEIC, its highest level of alarm.

More than 87,000 mpox cases, including 140 deaths, have been confirmed from 111 countries from January 2022 through April 2023, according to the WHO’s latest report. Globally, cases have been declining for months, especially as awareness has increased and a vaccine became more widely available.

Nicola Low, the vice-chair of WHO’s emergency committee on mpox, said despite the number of cases falling, transmission continues to circulate. He said there was a need to move to a strategy for managing the long-term public health risks of mpox than relying on emergency measures.

Low said the transition would mean including mpox response and preparedness under national disease surveillance programmes, such as those for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.