June 12, 2024

COVID-19 and monkeypox on the rise in Africa

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanmon Ghebreyesus speaks during the Strategic Roundtable discussion "A Healthy Return: investing in a sustainably financed WHO" on 23 May 2022 at the 75th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. Expert reports have highlighted the mismatch between what the world needs from WHO and, in particular, its role leading the multilateral response to health emergencies, and the way it is currently funded. In January 2021 the Working Group on Sustainable Financing was set up to look afresh at the issue and it makes substantive recommendations in a report to be discussed at this Assembly. The discussion included the formal launch of ‘A Healthy Return: investing in a sustainably financed WHO’, the new WHO investment case. It also spotlighted the Results Report 2020-2021 ‘For a Safer, Healthier and Fairer world’ as an example of the commitment of the Secretariat to enhanced accountability, transparency and reporting on results. https://www.who.int/news-room/events/detail/2022/05/23/default-calendar/strategic-roundtables-seventy-fifth-world-health-assembly

Covid-19 cases and deaths continue to decline globally, yet figures in North America and Africa are still increasing, the Director General of the World Health Organization Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted at a media briefing on Wednesday.

“We continue to call on all countries to maintain testing and sequencing services, to give us a clearer picture of where the virus is spreading, and how it’s changing. And we call on all countries to vaccinate all health workers, older people and other at-risk groups,” said Dr. Ghebreyesus.

As for monkeypox, a viral disease similar to smallpox, over 550 confirmed cases have been reported to the WHO from 30 countries that are not endemic to the virus. An outbreak of a disease is endemic in a country when it is consistently present but limited to a particular region, meaning the spread and rates of infection are predictable.

While there are ongoing investigations into the outbreak’s transmission, the sudden appearance in different countries at the same time suggest there may have been undetected transmission for some time.

“So far, most cases have been reported among men who have sex with men presenting with symptoms at sexual health clinics. These communities are working hard to inform their members about the risks of monkeypox, and prevent transmission,” said Dr. Ghebreyesus before adding that .

The director-general urged everyone to work hard in fighting against stigma, which could be preventing some from seeking medical care. He also noted anyone can be infected with monkeypox if they have close physical contact with someone else who is infected.

More cases are expected to be found as the outbreak evolves.

“WHO’s priorities now are first, to provide accurate information to those groups most at risk of monkeypox; second, to prevent further spread among at-risk groups; third, to protect frontline health workers; and fourth, to advance our understanding of this disease,” he said.

The current reach of monkeypox has extended outside of Africa to Europe, North America, the Middle East and Australia.

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