Declaring a health emergency requires a coordinated international response and can unlock funding for cooperation to share vaccines and treatments.
In July, the WHO raised the alarm about monkeypox because of the rapidly spreading epidemic, especially outside endemic areas in Africa.
By the end of October, more than 77,000 cases were confirmed in the world, mainly in North America and Europe. According to Reuters data, six cases of the infectious disease have been confirmed in Bulgaria, with the most recent data being as of September 13.
Global health authorities have counted far fewer cases of monkeypox in Africa, but the development of the epidemic and the number of deaths may be much higher than recorded in official statistics, writes “Reuters” from Congo – one of the endemic areas for the infection countries.
The USA and Europe looted the scarce vaccines and there were none left for Africa. In the Congo, supplies are so limited that even effective drugs are not available.
A shortage of tests and poor transport links make tracking the virus almost impossible.
The African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acknowledged that its data did not capture the full scale of the epidemic on the continent.
Monkeypox has killed about 10 people in the U.S. and Europe so far, but the two regions have largely succeeded in vaccinating at-risk groups, testing suspected cases, isolating them, and treating them early, improving survival rates, experts said. The number of cases in Europe and the United States has stabilized and started to decrease, writes “Reuters”.
But in poorer African countries, many people do not have quick access to health facilities or are unaware of the dangers. More than 150 have died, almost all in Congo, according to the African CDC.
There are no publicly available vaccines against monkeypox in Africa.
There have been more than 4,000 suspected and confirmed cases and 154 deaths in Congo this year, according to health centers for infectious diseases in Africa, partly based on data from health authorities. This is far less than the 27,000 cases registered in the United States and 7,000 in Spain.
African countries with outbreaks include Ghana, where there are about 600 suspected and confirmed cases, and Nigeria, where there are nearly 2,000.