World Health Organization Activates Emergency Panel

( )- The World Health Organization is set to hold a second meeting this week with its emergency committee regarding monkeypox, which is spreading around the world.

As of the last update that the WHO sent last week, monkeypox has been reported in 63 countries, for a total of around 9,200 cases.

Monkeypox has long been considered an endemic in some countries in both Central and West Africa. However, starting in early May, monkeypox infections started to be reported in countries outside of that region.

That led the WHO to convene an emergency committee on June 23. The experts there discussed whether the current situation with the disease would merit the highest alarm that the organization could ultimately issue — a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, or PHEIC.

At that point, the majority of the emergency committee suggested that Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the chief of the WHO, not issue that warning, since the situation didn’t merit it. With cases continuing to rise around the world, though, the emergency committee will now convene again to discuss any updates.

In a statement released this week, the UN health agency said:

“The emergency committee will provide its views to the WHO director general on whether the event constitutes a PHEIC. If so, it will propose temporary recommendations on how to better prevent and reduce the spread of the disease and manage the global public health response.”

Once the meeting is held and the committee makes its decisions and any recommendations, they plan on releasing another statement to the public. That statement could come out later this week or even sometime early next week, depending on what happens at the meeting on July 21.

To this point, the WHO has said that a majority of the infections for monkeypox have happened mainly in urban regions and in men who have had sex with other men. Most of the infected people have been young as well.

As part of the emergency meeting, the committee is set to analyze the trends of the infections as well as how effective the counter measures that they’ve suggested have been since their last meeting. They’ll also potentially issue new recommendations for what places could potentially do to control the situation.

Tedros said during a Tuesday press conference that the WHO was going to work closely with the LGBTQ community, “especially to tackle the stigma around the virus. WHO continues to work with countries and vaccine manufacturers to coordinate the sharing of vaccines, which are currently scarce.

“We must work to stop onward transmission and advise governments to implement contact tracing to help track and stem the virus as well as to assist people in isolation.”

Last week, the WHO released the first official report that it conducted on the monkeypox virus and its spread. Included in that was a detailed profile of the typical people who have been infected thus far in the outbreak.

The median age of those affected is 37, according to the WHO, and three-fifths of them have said they have had sex with other men.