The Director-General of the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a global health emergency yesterday. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (the Director General) made the decision despite the fact that the WHO’s expert committee didn’t reach a consensus on whether to apply the highest level of alert to the virus.
Ghebreyesus made the decision despite a lack of consensus among the WHO committee (the Director General called himself the “tiebreaker”). Note: This is the first time a U.N. health agency chief has unilaterally made such a decision without an expert recommendation.
While a global emergency is the organization’s highest alert level, it doesn’t always mean a disease is highly transmissible or lethal. Similar declarations were made for the Zika virus in 2016 in Latin America and the ongoing effort to eradicate polio.
It’s unclear what exactly the designation will do to help mitigate monkeypox, but it might spur more investment in combatting the disease with vaccines etc. International collaboration among the member nations of the WHO generally improves when an emergency is declared.