Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Response

World Health Organization responds to Fiona Godlee and Ray Moynihan

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 20 June 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d3830
  1. Geoffrey M Reed, senior project officer, revision of ICD-10 Mental and Behavioural Disorders1,
  2. Tarun Dua, medical officer, evidence, research and action on mental and brain disorders1,
  3. Shekhar Saxena, director1
  1. 1Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse (MSD/MER), World Health Organization, CH-1211 Geneva, Switzerland
  1. reedg{at}

In her editor’s choice in the print issue of 14 May Godlee asks: “Who should define disease?”1 This question was answered by international treaty in 1948, when the World Health Organization was founded as a specialised agency of the United Nations. The WHO has unique authority to establish global health standards and secure international agreement on defining diseases. Among the core functions in its constitution are responsibility for international definitions and nomenclatures of disease, and standardising diagnostic procedures.2 The WHO’s 193 member states have agreed to use the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) as a basis for reporting health information that is usable and comparable across countries. The World Health Assembly—comprising the health ministers of …

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