Mpox remains public health emergency -WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has maintained that mpox, formerly known as monkeypox, remains a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), citing continued transmission in some countries.

The global health body stated Wednesday in a report of the fourth meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) Emergency Committee regarding the multi-country outbreak of mpox, which was held on 9 February.

According to the report, the committee acknowledged the progress made in the global response to the multi-country outbreak of mpox and the further decline in the number of reported cases but observed that a few countries continued to see a sustained incidence of illness.

It added that the committee is also of the view that underreported detection and under-reporting of confirmed cases of illness in other regions is likely.

Mpox was declared a global health emergency by the WHO in July 2022.

Declined cases

In his opening remarks, the WHO Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, acknowledged a sustained decline in cases globally, with the majority of cases being reported from the Regions of the Americas.

Mr Ghebreyesus also noted “the need to sustain efforts for surveillance, prevention and care; vaccinate high-risk populations; improve equitable access to diagnostics, vaccines and treatment for all who need them, and continue to fight stigma and discrimination and ensure respect for human rights”.

He added that the continued human-to-human transmission could lead to a resurgence of cases, and concluded that over the longer-term, mpox programmes and services should be integrated into national surveillance and control programmes, including for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

Data as of 12 February from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), shows that 85,802 mpox infections have been recorded in 110 countries.


According to the report, the WHO European Region reported at the meeting that as of 3 February, 43 countries and territories have not detected any new cases in the past three months, while 18 countries and territories continued to report recent local human-to-human transmission, and that case numbers have decreased significantly.

The region of the Americas reported a stable number of cases in the last six weeks, with between 200 and 250 cases per week, and 4 per cent of cases occurring in women.

The region added that while the vaccine supply is limited, seven countries have started vaccination.

The report noted that the Committee expressed concerns about the possible resurgence of cases in some regions, due to the lack of access to vaccines and testing capacities and the recurring zoonotic transmission in Africa.

The committee also acknowledged the “WHO region’s proposal to develop a five-year elimination strategy and stressed the need for all countries to rapidly develop and continue to implement existing short-term responses to mpox and begin the development of national and regional plans aimed at long-term elimination of human-to-human transmission”.


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