WHO Expects More Cases of Monkeypox to Emerge Globally

LONDON — The World Health Organization said it expects to identify more cases of monkeypox as it expands surveillance in countries where the disease is not typically found.

As of Saturday, 92 confirmed cases and 28 suspected cases of monkeypox have been reported from 12 member states that are not endemic for the virus, the U.N. agency said, adding it will provide further guidance and recommendations in the coming days for countries on how to mitigate the spread of monkeypox.

"Available information suggests that human-to-human transmission is occurring among people in close physical contact with cases who are symptomatic," the agency added.

Monkeypox is an infectious disease that is usually mild and is endemic in parts of west and central Africa. It is spread by close contact, so it can be relatively easily contained through such measures as self-isolation and hygiene.

"What seems to be happening now is that it has got into the population as a sexual form, as a genital form, and is being spread as are sexually transmitted infections, which has amplified its transmission around the world," WHO official David Heymann, an infectious disease specialist, told Reuters.

Heymann said an international committee of experts met via video conference to look at what needed to be studied about the outbreak and communicated to the public, including whether there is any asymptomatic spread, who are at most risk, and the various routes of transmission.

He said the meeting was convened "because of the urgency of the situation." The committee is not the group that would suggest declaring a public health emergency of international concern, WHO's highest form of alert, which applies to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said close contact was the key transmission route, as lesions typical of the disease are very infectious. For example, parents caring for sick children are at risk, as are health workers, which is why some countries have started inoculating teams treating monkeypox patients using vaccines for smallpox, a related virus.

Early genomic sequencing of a handful of the cases in Europe has suggested a similarity with the strain that spread in a limited fashion in Britain, Israel and Singapore in 2018.

Heymann said it was "biologically plausible" the virus had been circulating outside of the countries where it is endemic but had not led to major outbreaks due to COVID-19 lockdowns, social distancing and travel restrictions.

He stressed that the monkeypox outbreak did not resemble the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic because it does not transmit as easily. Those who suspect they may have been exposed or who show symptoms including bumpy rash and fever, should avoid close contact with others, he said.

"There are vaccines available, but the most important message is, you can protect yourself," he added.

Source: Voice of America

Africa To Invest In Health Of Women, Children In Humanitarian Settings

NAIROBI, Provision of quality and affordable healthcare services to women, children and adolescents in Africa’s conflict hotspots will be a priority, to avert a humanitarian crisis, senior officials said at a virtual forum.

Margaret Agama-Anyetei, acting director for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development at the African Union (AU), said, the bloc and its multilateral partners intend to scale up maternal, infant and adolescent health services in fragile settings, as part of efforts to build the resilience of communities.

“Responding to the health needs of women, children and youth in humanitarian settings is critical, to save lives and build resilience in the face of fragilities connected to the climate crisis, conflicts and the pandemic,” said Agama-Anyetei.

She disclosed that, the establishment of a home-grown agency, to deal with the humanitarian crisis in the continent had gathered steam, and priority will be accorded to vulnerable groups like women, children, the elderly and youth.

While acknowledging that the climate crisis, COVID-19 pandemic and internal strife had taken a heavier toll on women, girls, children and the adolescents in Africa, Agama-Anyetei said, providing them with nutritional support, clean water, sanitation and reproductive health services was paramount.

Early preparedness and response, improved accountability and partnership are key to boosting response to the health and nutrition needs of women and children in fragile settings, said Agama-Anyetei.

Convened by global health lobbies, the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) and CORE Group, the virtual forum sought to rekindle conversation on effective delivery of health services to women, children and adolescents in humanitarian and fragile settings.

Chipo Chimamise, deputy director of Maternal and Reproductive Health of the Ministry of Health and Childcare of Zimbabwe, said that, investing in women, child centered healthcare programmes was crucial, given their vulnerability to diseases, malnutrition occasioned by conflicts and natural disasters.

Chimamise suggested that, African governments should prioritise investing in mental health and psychosocial support, to help heal trauma among women, children and youth in humanitarian settings.

Source: Nam News Network