AUSTIN, Texas — On July 23, 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox a global health emergency due to its rapid spread around the world. Monkeypox has the potential to become a pandemic, just like COVID-19. This declaration highlights the urgency of U.S. Congress passing the Global Health Security Act of 2021, which has passed the House of Representatives but is yet to be voted on in the Senate. The U.S. Senate must pass the Global Health Security Act to strengthen U.S. government efforts to tackle and contain infectious diseases globally with help from other countries.
Preventing Another Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it consequences spanning far beyond health. The global, far-reaching economic, social and health implications of this pandemic highlighted the importance of strong preventative and containment responses and the necessity of strengthening health care systems across the world.
By advocating for the passing of the Global Health Security Act in the Senate, the U.S. can play a significant role in preventing future pandemics. The United States, as a global powerhouse, has the resources and tools necessary to protect health and well-being globally by tackling monkeypox and future pandemics.
How Monkeypox is Impacting the US and Other Countries
Europe is now “the global epicenter of the outbreak” with close to 90% of confirmed cases of monkeypox arising in Europe alone since the middle of May 2022. As of July 1, 2022, the U.K. has more than 1,000 reported cases and Germany has 838. As of July 29, 2022, the U.S. has noted 4,600 cases so far with New York (1,341) and San Francisco (261) declaring it a public health emergency. As of July 28, 2022, 11 countries in Africa have reported more than 2,100 monkeypox cases with 75 deaths. These statistics highlight the urgency of the U.S. Senate passing the Global Health Security Act in order to reduce the number of cases and deaths in the U.S. and abroad.
Monkeypox Symptoms and Transmission
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says monkeypox transmission can occur in several ways. For instance, through “skin-to-skin contact” or touching surfaces or even fabric items such as “clothing, bedding or towels” and even “contact with respiratory secretions.”
Pregnant women can also “spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta.” Symptoms of monkeypox are as follows: fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion, sore throat and rashes commonly found near or on the genitalia. However, these rashes can appear on other body parts too, such as the hands and face. Scientists are still working on researching several aspects of monkeypox, including determining if it “can be spread when someone has no symptoms” or if it can be spread through urine or feces.
The Importance of the Global Health Security Act
The U.S. Senate must pass the Global Health Security Act in line with its commitment to the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) launched in partnership with almost 30 nations in 2014 “to address several high-priority, global infectious disease threats.” Passing this piece of legislation for the promotion of global health security is crucial for the furtherance of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.
Passing the Global Health Security Act will help in slowing the spread of monkeypox on an international level with assistance from other countries. The legislation, among many other efforts, will require the State Department to engage in negotiations with U.N. agencies and donors to create “a Fund for Global Health Security and Pandemic Preparedness.” This fund will close the “gaps in global health security and pandemic preparedness” and also “builds capacity in eligible partner countries related to global health security, infectious disease control and pandemic preparedness.” The fund will also allocate “grants, technical assistance and innovative funding mechanisms” in light of these goals.
A Matter of Global Health Security
Passing the Global Health Security Act means safeguarding the economic, health and social priorities of the world. Through a united global response to this global health emergency, the United States, along with the rest of the international community can protect the lives and well-being of global citizens while ensuring that the monkeypox outbreak does not escalate to a point where it could disrupt travel, trade and livelihoods. The growing statistics highlight the urgency for the United States to act now to safeguard global health security.
– Abdullah Dowaihy