New Delhi [India]: Expressing concern over rapidly spreading cases of Monkeypox, the first Indian elected as Regional Director of World Health Organization South-East Asia Region said that with cases concentrated among men who have sex with men, it is possible to curtail further spread of the disease with focused efforts among the at-risk population.
“Monkeypox has been spreading rapidly and to many countries that have not seen it before, which is a matter of great concern. However, with cases concentrated among men who have sex with men, it is possible to curtail further spread of the disease with focused efforts among the at-risk population,” WHO Regional Director Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh said in a statement. The World Health Organization on Sunday called on countries in South – East Asia Region to strengthen surveillance and public health measures for monkeypox, with the disease being declared a public health emergency of international concern.
Yesterday, WHO declared Monkeypox a public global health emergency.
“I have decided that the global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Saturday.
More than 16000 cases of Monkeypox have been reported from 75 countries including three from India, and one from Thailand.
The cases in India are among nationals who returned home from the Middle East, while in Thailand an international living in the country has been confirmed positive for Monkeypox.
“Importantly, our focused efforts and measures should be sensitive, devoid of stigma or discrimination,” Regional Director said.
“Though the risk of Monkeypox globally and in the Region is moderate, the potential of its further international spread is real. Also, there are still many unknowns about the virus. We need to stay alert and prepared to roll out intense response to curtail further spread of Monkeypox,” Dr Singh said further.
Since the start of the outbreak, WHO has been supporting countries to assess risk, and initiating public health measures, while also building and facilitating testing capacities in the Region.
Engaging and protecting the affected communities, intensifying surveillance and public health measures, strengthening clinical management and infection prevention and control in hospitals and clinics and accelerating research into the use of vaccines, therapeutics and other tools, are among the key measures that need to be scaled-up, the Regional Director said.
Monkeypox virus is transmitted from infected animals to humans via indirect or direct contact. Human-to-human transmission can occur through direct contact with infectious skin or lesions, including face-to-face, skin-to-skin, and respiratory droplets. In the current outbreak countries and amongst the reported Monkeypox cases, transmission appears to be occurring primarily through close physical contact, including sexual contact.
Transmission can also occur from contaminated materials such as linens, bedding, electronics, and clothing, that have infectious skin particles.