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Gaming addiction classified as mental health disorder by WHO

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, June 20th, 2018

A child playing video game ‘Fortnite’. Image grabbed from Reuters video

 

Many parents already have concerns, but some may now have a new argument for limiting their children’s ‘screen time’ – addiction to video games has been recognized by World Health Organization as a mental health disorder.

The WHO’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD), a reference bible of recognized and diagnosable diseases, describes addiction to digital and video gaming as “a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior” that becomes so extensive it “takes precedence over other life interests”.

The WHO’s expert on mental health and substance abuse, Shekhar Saxena, said an addicted gamer “loses control over the gaming and ignores other essential activities like sleep, like eating, like taking part in education or work.”

He stressed that only a small minority of people who play digital and video games would develop a problem, but said recognition of early warning signs may help prevent it.

“The very fact that we did not put gaming disorder earlier in the classification means that it’s an emerging problem and certainly it’s more common in those countries and regions where gaming is readily accessible,” he said.

Responding to the decision to including gaming addiction, the Video Games Coalition – an industry lobby group – said their products were “enjoyed safely and sensibly by more than 2 billion people worldwide” across all kinds of genres, devices, and platforms.

It added that the “educational, therapeutic, and recreational value” of games was well-founded and widely recognized and urged the WHO to reconsider.

The ICD, which has been updated over the past 10 years, covers 55,000 injuries, diseases, and causes of death. It forms a basis for the WHO and other experts to see and respond to trends in health.

The ICD is also used by health insurers whose reimbursements depend on ICD classifications.

This latest version – known as ICD-11 – is completely electronic for the first time, in an effort to make it more accessible to doctors and other health workers around the world.

ICD-11 also includes changes to sexual health classifications. Previous editions had categorized sexual dysfunction and gender incongruence, for example, under mental health conditions, while in ICD-11 these move to the sexual health section. The latest edition also has a new chapter on traditional medicine.

The updated ICD is scheduled to be presented to WHO member states at their annual World Health Assembly in May 2019 for adoption in January 2022, the WHO said in a statement. — Reuters

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WHO calls emergency meeting to address Ebola outbreak in Congo

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, May 18th, 2018

 

The World Health Organization (WHO) will convene an emergency meeting today to consider the international risk of the Ebola outbreak in Congo.

WHO official Peter Salama says the UN body would decide whether to declare a public health emergency of international concern. Salama explains doing so would trigger more international involvement, mobilizing sources and resource.

The UN body made the decision to call for an emergency meeting after an Ebola virus case was confirmed in Mbandaka, which has a population of one million.

There have already been 44 suspected, probable or confirmed cases of Ebola in Congo, and 23 people have died. — Reuters

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Air pollution kills 7 million people each year, WHO calls for quick change

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

A man wearing a respiratory protection mask walks toward an office building during the smog after a red alert was issued for heavy air pollution in Beijing’s central business district, China, December 21, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday, May 1, that air pollution still kills 7 million people each year, almost all of them in poor countries in Asia and Africa, and that 9 out of 10 people on the planet breathe in polluted air, following the release of its latest data on air pollution worldwide.

According to the health institution, about a quarter of deaths from heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer can be attributed to air pollution.

These numbers have remained unchanged in the past years, with, globally, outdoor air pollution remaining high and largely unchanged, while indoor air pollution has got worse, as people in many poorer countries continue to cook with solid fuel or kerosene, instead of cleaner fuels such as gas and electricity. Women and children are the most at risk.

Director, Dr. Maria Neira of WHO’s Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health said almost half of the global population is “still cooking and heating and lightening their house” with solid fuels and wood which are not very clean fuels” and “this is having a very negative impact on their health.”

“This is something that we need to solve. We need to increase access to clean fuels, clean energy for this very important proportion of our population,” Dr. Neira added.

WHO’s global assessment is based on satellite data and modeling overlaid on the database of more than 4,300 cities, an almost 50% increase compared to WHO last report in 2016, and is self-selecting, because it is based on voluntary reporting, with numbers that have been hugely revised since the previous report.

The World Health Organization plans to organize in October the first Conference on air pollution and Health to speed up change at a global level. – Reuters

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WHO warns of soaring rates of measles in Europe

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

FILE PHOTO: World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan holds the Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015 during a news conference at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, October 19, 2015. REUTERS/DENIS BALIBOUSE

The World Health Organization (WHO) warns of soaring rates of measles in Europe.

The cases increased four-fold, with more than 20,000 people affected and 35 deaths.

Fifteen European region countries, including the UK, had large outbreaks. Measles cases were highest in Romania, Italy, and Ukraine. The UK saw 282 cases in 2017.

The UK recently achieved WHO’s measles elimination status, meaning that for the past few years the number of cases has been low enough to stop the disease circulating around the country.

The overall risk of measles to the UK population is low, but WHO warns that due to ongoing measles outbreaks in Europe, cases in unimmunized individuals and limited onward spread can occur. — Reuters

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