World Federation of Neurology welcomes WHO classification of stroke as neurological disease

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A new International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) is to be implemented for stroke by the Wold Health Organisation (WHO). ICD-11, which has been under discussion since 2009, is to replace the current World Health Organisation (WHO) ICD-10, and has been slated for release in 2018. The new ICD is aimed at reflecting the changes in science and practice which have taken place over the past 60 years.

“The medical rationale for stroke being a neurological condition has always been compelling. We therefore welcome the latest decision by the Department of Statistics at the WHO to move the thematic block of cerebrovascular diseases from the circulatory diseases chapter to diseases of the nervous system,” notes Raad Shakir, head of the WHO Neurology Topic Advisory Group and president of the World Federation of Neurology (WFN).

Public support for the latest WHO move on the issue of stroke classification follows a period of expert discussions and major concern in the neurological community. Last October, international neurology and stroke specialists publicly expressed their concern in an editorial in the Lancet about the classification of stroke in the draft revision of the ICD. This step was in response to an unexpected change in the classification system by which the newly created group of cerebrovascular diseases was moved from neurological to circulatory diseases.

Shakir says, “There are very good reasons why the WHO Neurology Topic Advisory Group advocated throughout this process that all types of stroke should form a single block in the new classification and be part of the nervous system disease chapter. All manifestations of cerebrovascular disease are related to brain dysfunction. We are relieved and fully support the prudent and farsighted changes implemented by the WHO team.”

According to the WFN president, the latest classification decision with respect to stroke serves the interests of patients’ needs. Shakir says, “It also ensures that health care provision and funding will be based on correct figures, which has not been the case thus far.”