Intended for healthcare professionals

Opinion

Why the monkeypox outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern

BMJ 2022; 378 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.o1978 (Published 09 August 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;378:o1978
  1. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director, General,
  2. World Health Organization

On 23 July, I declared the global monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) and issued recommendations to all countries, with the objective of stopping transmission and controlling the outbreak.

Monkeypox has been known to infect humans for more than 50 years, but until this year, was little known or understood outside Africa, and received scant attention or investment.

On 13 May, the United Kingdom reported a case of monkeypox in an individual with recent travel history to Nigeria, one of several African countries where the virus is known to be endemic. Since then, the outbreak has expanded rapidly. At the time of writing, more than 26 000 cases have been reported from 85 countries and territories, with 12 deaths, and the outbreak shows no sign of slowing down.

The majority of reported cases—over 97%—are among men who have sex with men (MSM), especially those with …

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