WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at 4th meeting of the IHR Emergency Committee: multi-country outbreak of mpox – 9 February 2023

Dear members and advisers of the Emergency Committee, colleagues and friends,


Thank you to our Chair and Vice-Chair for joining us in Geneva, and to all of you for joining us from around the world.


It is very pleasing to see how, thanks to the hard work of affected countries, cases of mpox have declined since I declared a public health emergency of international concern last July.


The number of reported cases of mpox has continued to drop to low levels in all regions since the last time you met, and this looks like a sustained decline.


More than 85,000 cases of mpox have now been reported to WHO, with 92 deaths.


Since November, 90 percent of cases have been reported from the Region of the Americas.


But WHO continues to receive case reports from around the world, with more than 30 countries reporting in the last month.


It is important to note that it is difficult to chart the true trajectory of the epidemic in the African Region due to the limited data available to WHO. Data sharing remains critical for all countries.


That said, the slowdown in reported cases indicates the effectiveness of response measures globally.


Whether or not you advise me that the outbreak continues to constitute a public health emergency of international concern, bringing the outbreak to an end still requires intense effort. If we do not stop human-to-human transmission, we could face a resurgence of cases.


And of course, we must remember that mpox has been endemic in many low-income countries in Africa for many years.


Even as it recedes in countries that have not seen major outbreaks before, this global outbreak must spur more sustained investment in addressing this disease everywhere.


Going forward, we must sustain efforts for surveillance, prevention and care; vaccination of high-risk populations;


improving equitable access to diagnostics, vaccines and treatment for all who need them; and continuing to fight stigma and discrimination, and ensure respect for human rights.


Over the longer-term, mpox programmes and services should be integrated into surveillance and control programmes for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.


In a few moments my colleagues will provide technical updates on the current epidemiological situation.


My thanks once again to you, Dr Okwo-Bele, for your leadership.


And my thanks to each of the committee members and advisors for sharing your expertise, and for your dedication and commitment.


As always, the International Health Regulations will be your guide.


I wish you a productive discussion, and I look forward to your recommendations.


I thank you.


Source: World Health Organization