WHO ready to support PH vs monkeypox

Published July 30, 2022, 2:47 PM

by Analou de Vera

This undated electron microscopic (EM) handout image provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention depicts a monkeypox virion, obtained from a clinical sample associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. It was a thin section image from a human skin sample. On the left were mature, oval-shaped virus particles, and on the right were the crescents, and spherical particles of immature virions. Cynthia S. Goldsmith / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention / AFP

The World Health Organization (WHO) expressed its readiness to provide assistance to the Philippines in its fight against the monkeypox virus.

“As we do with all disease outbreaks, WHO has been and will continue to work closely with the DOH (Department of Health) to provide technical advice to support the development and implementation of national policies, strategies, and plans,” said WHO Philippines Officer-in-Charge Dr. Graham Harrison in a statement.

“We will continue our support as the situation evolves,” he added.

Harrison also cited the DOH’s readiness in handling the monkeypox.

“The Department of Health has been proactive towards preparedness, prevention, and response to monkeypox,” he said.

The WHO official urged the public to remain vigilant following the detection of the first monkeypox case in the Philippines.

“We at WHO want to highlight that monkeypox can affect anyone, but everyone can help reduce its transmission,” said Harrison.

“Common symptoms of monkeypox include fever, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash that blisters and crusts. If you think you might have monkeypox, we encourage you to seek medical advice,” he added.

On Friday, July 29, the DOH reported the first case of monkeypox in the country, involving a 31-year-old Filipino national who arrived from abroad. The DOH said that this person “had prior travel to countries with documented monkeypox cases.”

“The Philippines is the eight country/area in the Western Pacific Region with confirmed monkeypox cases,” the WHO said.

On July 23, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus announced that the multi-country outbreak of monkeypox represents a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

Hospitals ready

Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines, Inc. (PHAPI) President Dr. Jose De Grano said that their member-hospitals are ready to manage suspected or confirmed monkeypox cases.

“Ang sabi naman ng ating Department of Health, pareho lang ang paghahandang ginagawa natin katulad ng mga paghahanda natin sa COVID. Kasi gunun din naman halos ang gagawin, i-a-isolate natin kung sakali tayong mayroon suspect na merong ganitong sintomas (The Department of Health said that the preparations for this are also the same as those for COVID. The protocols are also the same–to isolate those suspected cases),” he said during an interview with radio DZBB on Saturday, July 30.

”And then of course ire-report agad yan sa Department of Health or local government unit nang sa ganun po ay ma-isolate at mabigyan ng kaukulang pagsusuri kung iyon ay talagang monkeypox (it will be immediately reported to the Department of Health or local government unit so that it can be isolated and be tested to confirm if it is indeed a case of monkeypox),” he added.

As much as possible, De Grano said that suspected cases of monkeypox should be isolated and treated in hospitals to prevent possible further transmission.

“Hindi po puwedeng sa bahay iyan pagka talaga pong suspect. Pag suspec[ted] po ng monkeypox ay kailangang i-isolate siya sa isang area (Suspected cases of monkeypox should not be isolated at home. Instead, they should be isolated in one [hospital] area),” he said.

On July 29, the DOH said that the first monkeypox case “has been discharged well, and is undergoing strict isolation and monitoring at home.”

Rarely fatal

The DOH said that monkeypox is rarely fatal. “Monkeypox symptoms are mild, and the disease is rarely fatal,” it said on Saturday, July 30.

It also noted that there are two “clades” of monkeypox: the West African clade, and the Congo Basin clade.

“Historic data published by the WHO points to a case fatality rate (CFR) of 360 deaths per 10,000 cases for the West African clade and 1,000 deaths per 10,000 cases for the Congo Basin clade,” the DOH said.

“The denominator for these data points has been historically smaller than the number of cases we have today worldwide. Recent figures place the case count worldwide at around 22,000, with 10 deaths, giving a CFR of around five deaths out of every 10,000 cases,” the DOH added.