The World Health Organization warned this Thursday of the foreseeable increase in cases of monkeypox in Latin America due to lack of awareness and access to vaccines.
Last week, the number of reported cases fell by more than 20%, although new cases increased in the Americas being The United States is the country with the highest increase.
The Organization said there are signs the outbreak is easing in Europe, where a combination of effective public health measures, behavior change and vaccination are helping to prevent transmission.
“However, in Latin America in particular, insufficient public health awareness and measures are being combined with a lack of access to vaccines for fan the flames of the outbreak”, explained Dr. Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus, the director general of the WHO.
The manufacturer of a vaccine, Bavarian Nordic, signed an agreement with the Pan American Health Organizationthe regional branch of the Organization, to support access to its vaccine in Latin America and the Caribbean.
One million deaths from COVID-19 in 2022
© UNICEF/Evgeny Maloletka
On the other hand, this week, one million registered deaths from COVID-19 have been exceeded so far this year.
“We cannot say that we are learning to live with COVID-19 when a million people have died from COVID-19 this year alone.when we have been in the pandemic for two and a half years and we have all the necessary tools to prevent these deaths,” said Tedros, who once again asked governments to redouble their efforts to vaccinate all health workers, the elderly and other people at higher risk, on the way to 70% vaccination coverage for the entire population.
However, he noted that some countries with the lowest vaccination rates are catching up, especially in Africa, with only 10 countries still having less than 10% coverage, most of which are facing humanitarian emergencies.
Nevertheless, a third of the world population remains unvaccinatedincluding two-thirds of health workers and three-quarters of older adults in low-income countries.
Tedros also referred to the new Ebola outbreak confirmed by health authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, after a case appeared in the northeastern city of Beni, which was the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak from 2018 to 2020.
So far 179 contacts have been identified. “The vaccination of contacts and contacts of contacts has started today“, he pointed.
Since the last major outbreak ended in 2020, there have been occasional outbreaks, which have been brought under control immediately.
The WHO, he said, will continue to support the health authorities of the DRC and North Kivu province to respond to this case and prevent new transmissions.
Last week, the Organization published new guidelines recommending the use of two Ebola treatments, which have shown clear benefits in reducing deaths by about 60%.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has supplies of these drugs, should they be needed. “With highly effective vaccines and therapies, Ebola is now a preventable and treatable disease,” Tedros said.
“My relatives are starving in Tigray”
© UNICEF/Nahom Tesfaye
The WHO chief made an impassioned appeal on behalf of his home region, Tigray, Ethiopia, where he has relatives he cannot communicate with or send money to amid the blockade by government forces.
Fighting in the region resumed this week after months of calm.
“I have a lot of relatives there. I want to send the money. I can't send the money. They are starving. I know I can't help you,” Tedros lamented. “I can't help you. I can't help you. I can share what I have. I can't do it because they are completely isolated,” he added. “I can't talk to them. I don't even know who is dead or who is alive.”
Tedros, an ethnic Tigrayan, responded to a question about the role he is playing in his country's politics, insisting that as head of the WHO, he has spoken about humanitarian crises in many places, including Yemen, Syria, Ukraine. and the Congo.
The Tigray crisis, he added, is exceptional because the region is practically isolated from the world by government forces from Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea. “Can you tell me somewhere in the same situation in the world?” she asked. “We are talking about the six million people who are being punished collectively.”
“The international community has mobilized to help export Ukraine's grains. Why can't we do the same for Ethiopia to bring food, medicine, restore basic services and telecommunications?” same as we did for Syria. Maybe it's time to ask for a humanitarian corridor to help the six million people like we did in Syria,” he said.
At the organization's previous press conference, Tedros said that racism is behind the lack of international attention to the crisis.
The conflict began in November 2020, and has caused the death of thousands of people.