Aiming to help parents and policymakers, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) today published the first internationally agreed classification code for assessing the health of children.
The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health for Children and Youth is considered a breakthrough initiative. “For the first time, we now have a tool that enables us to track and compare the health of children and youth between countries and over time,” said Nenad Kostanjsek of WHO's Measurement and Health Information team.
He said it “will allow countries and the international community to take informed action to improve children's health, education and rights, by treating their health as a function of the environment that adults provide.”
The Classification addresses hundreds of bodily functions and structures, activities and participation, and various environmental factors that restrict or allow young people to function in an array of every day activities. WHO said it will have has important implications globally for research, standard setting and mobilizing resources.
The classification also covers developmental delay, the agency said. Children who achieve certain milestones later than their peers may be at increased risk of disability. Using this classification, health practitioners, parents and teachers can describe these delays precisely in order to plan for health and educational needs and frame policy debates.