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World | Jun 25, 2022

ACT NOW: World Health Network declares monkeypox a pandemic

/ Our Today

Test tubes labelled “Monkeypox virus positive and negative” are seen in this illustration taken May 23, 2022. (Photo: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration)

The World Health Network (WHN) has declared the current monkeypox outbreak a pandemic.

The WHN is a network devoted to the development and execution of science-based global, national and local pandemic response. With 3,417 confirmed monkeypox cases reported across 58 countries, the WHN says the outbreak is rapidly expanding across multiple continents and will not stop without concerted global action.

Even with death rates much lower than smallpox, unless actions are taken to stop the ongoing spread actions that can be practically implemented millions of people will die and many more will become blind and disabled, the WHN has said in a statement.

The WHN explained that the essential purpose of declaring Monkeypox a pandemic is to achieve a concerted effort across multiple countries or over the world to prevent widespread harm.

Immediate action by WHO needed

The WHN is urging immediate action by the World Health Organization (WHO) and national CDC-level organisations, saying that, “Early action will have a greater impact with smaller interventions. If effective action is taken now, larger, more disruptive interventions will not be necessary. Health authorities and governments should learn from past mistakes in delaying response.”

Dr Yaneer Bar-Yam, president of New England Complex System Institute and co-founder of WHN, argues that there is no justification to wait for the monkeypox pandemic to grow further. The best time to act is now.

According to Bar-Yam, “by taking immediate action, we can control the outbreak with the least effort, and prevent consequences from becoming worse. The actions needed now only require clear public communication about symptoms, widely available testing, and contact tracing with very few quarantines. Any delay only makes the effort harder and the consequences more severe.”

Dr Yaneer Bar-Yam, president of New England Complex System Institute and co-founder of the World Health Network (WHN). (Photo:

Dr Eric Feigl-Ding, epidemiologist and health economist, and co-founder of WHN made the point that, “The WHO needs to urgently declare its own Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)—the lessons of not declaring a PHEIC immediately in early January 2020 should be remembered as a history lesson of what acting late on an epidemic can mean for the world.”

Monkeypox is a viral infection that originated in rodents and primates and is transmitted to people. It was found in Africa, mostly around tropical rainforest regions but has now spreading across the world especially in Western countries.

Monkeypox typically presents clinically with fever, rash and swollen lymph nodes and may lead to a range of medical complications. It is usually a self-limited disease with symptoms lasting from 2 to 4 weeks.


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