Afghan Voice Agency (AVA): The World Health Organization announced that the spread of "monkey pox" in more than 70 countries is an "extraordinary" situation that can now be described as a global emergency.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Secretary General of the World Health Organization, decided to issue this statement despite the lack of consensus among the members of the emergency committee of the organization. This is the first time that the head of the United Nations Health Agency has done such a thing.
"In short, we are dealing with an outbreak that is spreading rapidly around the world through new modes of transmission that we know very little about," Tedros said.
He added: "I know that this was not an easy or simple process and there are different views among the committee members."
The Secretary General of the World Health Organization stated that the level of risk in the world is at an average level, except for Europe, where the level of risk is high.
Although monkey pox has been prevalent in parts of Central and West Africa for decades, dozens of cases were detected in Europe, North America and other countries this May.
Declaring a global emergency means that the monkey pox outbreak is an "extraordinary event" that could spread to more countries and requires a coordinated global response.
The World Health Organization has previously declared emergencies for public health crises such as Covid-19, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014, the Zika virus in Latin America in 2016, and the ongoing effort to eradicate polio.
Declaring a state of emergency serves more as a request to draw more global resources and attention to an outbreak.
A World Health Organization expert committee said last month that the worldwide outbreak of monkey pox had not yet become an international emergency, but the panel met for a reassessment.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 16,000 cases of monkey pox have been reported in 74 countries since around May. To date, deaths from monkey pox have only been reported in Africa, where a more virulent version of the virus is spreading, with Nigeria and the Congo having a worse situation.
In Africa, monkey pox is often transmitted to people from infected wild animals such as rodents. However, monkey pox is spreading in Europe, North America and other parts of the world among people who have no contact with animals or recent travel to Africa.
Dr. Rosamund Lewis, the World Health Organization's chief monkey pox expert, said this week that 99 percent of all monkey pox cases outside of Africa are in men, and 98 percent of those cases involve men who have sex with other men.
The World Health Organization recommends that people who are most at risk, including medical staff, be vaccinated. The smallpox vaccine has also been evaluated as suitable for dealing with monkey pox.