health
Wednesday Jul 27 2022
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Health minister issues instructions after WHO imposes global emergency on monkeypox

Test tubes labelled Monkeypox virus positive are seen in this illustration taken May 23, 2022. — Reuters
Test tubes labelled "Monkeypox virus positive" are seen in this illustration taken May 23, 2022. — Reuters

  • Qadir Patel calls health ministy's special meeting on monkeypox.
  • No cases of monkeypox reported in Pakistan, health minister says.
  • Strict vigilance being done related to monkeypox, health minister adds.


ISLAMABAD: All hospitals across Pakistan are taking necessary steps to deal with monkeypox after directives were issued from the country's top health body, Minister for Health Qadir Patel said Wednesday.

The minister's comments came during a special meeting of the Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination convened at the directives of Patel after the World Health Organisation (WHO) imposed an emergency on monkeypox.

The rapidly spreading monkeypox outbreak represents a global health emergency, the WHO's highest level of alert, the organisation's director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said last week.

The WHO label — a "public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC)" — is designed to trigger a coordinated international response and could unlock funding to collaborate on sharing vaccines and treatments.

In today's meeting, the federal health minister said that strict vigilance is being done related to monkeypox, and no cases of the virus have been reported so far in the country.

"All hospitals have been instructed to employ necessary measures for dealing with monkeypox," the health minister said, noting that the virus has been detected in 75 countries across the globe.

Patel added that the ministry of health is constantly overseeing all matters related to monkeypox.

'Monkeypox emergency could last months'

Scientists advising the WHO on monkeypox say the window is closing to stop its spread, with cases currently doubling every two weeks, raising concerns that it will take several months for the outbreak to the peak.

WHO Europe has forecast just over 27,000 monkeypox cases in 88 countries by August 2, up from 17,800 cases in nearly 70 countries at the latest count.

Making predictions beyond that are complex, scientists around the world told Reuters, but there is likely to be sustained transmission for several months, and possibly longer, they said.

"We have to get in front of this," said Anne Rimoin, an epidemiology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.

"It's clear the window of opportunity for doing so is closing," added Rimoin, a member of the WHO expert committee on monkeypox that met last week to determine whether the outbreak constituted a global health emergency.

A majority of committee members voted against the move and, in an unprecedented step, WHO's Ghebreyesus declared an emergency anyway.

Action stemming from that declaration needs to be urgent, including increased vaccination, testing, isolation for those infected and contact tracing, global health experts said.


— Additional input from Reuters