The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday said mpox is no longer a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). Director-General of the agency, Tedros Ghebreyesus, made the declaration following a recommendation by the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) Emergency Committee at its fifth meeting on Friday, May 12. Mpox is a less severe cousin of the now-eradicated smallpox virus. It is endemic to parts of West and Central Africa and has typically been contracted from a rodent or small mammal. The virus can spread through contact with body fluids, sores or items such as clothing and bedding contaminated with the virus. Also, it can be spread from person to person through respiratory droplets, typically in a close setting.
“The emergency committee for mpox met and recommended to me that the multi-country outbreak of mpox no longer represents a public health emergency of international concern. I have accepted that advice and I’m pleased to declare that mpox is no longer a global health emergency.
“However, as with COVID-19, that does not mean that the work is over. Mpox continues to pose significant public health challenges that need a robust, proactive and sustainable response,” Ghebreyesus said.
WHO declared mpox a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) in July 2022 because of escalating cases and deaths from the disease.
The agency’s latest decision on mpox came barely a week after it declared COVID-19 as no longer a PHEIC.
The Emergency Committee acknowledged the progress achieved in the global response to the multi-country outbreak of the disease and the further decrease in reported cases since its last meeting.
The committee noted a sustained decline in cases globally, with almost 90 per cent fewer cases reported in the last three months, compared with the previous three months.
Nigeria was among the countries that presented situations of mpox during the meeting. Others are Japan, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.