The WHO is considering a new framework, which proposes the classification of ageing as a condition in all organs, along with the comprehensive classification of all ageing-related diseases. This will notionally drive resources towards unmet needs, and improve drug development and use. Abi Millar finds out more.
One of the great triumphs of modern medicine is the fact that people are living longer. As of 2020, people aged over 60 outnumber children under five. And by 2050 the number of over-60s will hit two billion globally (up from 900 million in 2015). There will also be more very elderly people than ever before.
Many of these people can expect to maintain good health for years to come. However, for others, a longer lifespan means a longer period of poor health and dependency. The implications for healthcare systems remain to be seen, but they certainly need to be prepared.
Unfortunately, our understanding of age-related diseases is far from complete. This becomes apparent when you look at the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) most recent International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), which was released in 2018 and comes into effect in 2022. Containing around 55,000 unique codes for injuries and diseases, the ICD-11 is an invaluable shared resource for healthcare professionals and researchers around the world.
Although the document does list ‘old age’ under the ‘general symptoms’ classification, it doesn’t delve into the issue very deeply. Ageing is commonly classed as a condition only in relation to skin ageing, leaving the rest of the body unaccounted for.
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