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ICD-11: Enhancing Global Health with Stronger Information

The Eleventh Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) has now taken effect as a basis for health reporting to the World Health Organization by WHO Member States (i.e., countries).

The ICD-11 brings several new advantages for improving health globally. After a decade of rigorous scientific research and unprecedented participation of clinicians worldwide, the ICD-11 has been reformulated and expanded to include new categories and conditions that allow clinicians to capture patient health in comprehensive, detailed, and standardized ways. 

Given that 70% of the world’s health expenditures use ICD coding and data for reimbursement and resource allocation, the ICD-11’s digital features will significantly facilitate the collection and comparison of critical health information worldwide. It is the first time that the ICD-11 has been made available electronically and can be utilized online or offline, bringing additional accessibility for countries or settings in which internet access is limited. Additionally, the new ICD-11 platform can be integrated into existing, local health information systems so that codes can be recorded without the additional process of entering an entirely new set of information into digital health record systems. A Coding Tool with a “search” function is also available, allowing for diagnoses and technical codes to be identified after entering key terms in non-technical language. Together, these digital functions of the ICD-11 allow for more robust data collection and strengthen health information systems globally.  

Chapter 6 of the ICD-11 contains the new Clinical Descriptions and Diagnostic Requirements (CDDR) for Mental, Behavioural or Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Members of the Global Clinical Practice Network have been instrumental in shaping the development of the CDDR through participation in global research studies, and the CDDR has now been integrated into the ICD-11 officially so practitioners can refer to sets of diagnostic criteria that have been rigorously tested for validity, reliability, and global applicability.

Having the CDDR as part of the primary source for diagnostic codes based on which health data will be collected, reported, and analyzed by WHO Member States represents a major advance in the quality and consistency of mental health information. The CDDR will also therefore drive mental health processes at the country level, including mental health resource distribution, reimbursement models, integrated care systems, and population level health reporting. Ultimately, the CDDR will have a powerful impact in shaping mental health policies and practices worldwide. 


Invited Perspective: How will the new ICD-11 and CDDR shape the mental health landscape in Germany?

Ulrich Vogel, Head of WHO Collaborating Centre for the Family of International Classifications and Head of Diagnosis Classifications at the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) in Germany, shares:

A major difference between the ICD-10 and ICD-11 is that now the CDDR is an integral part of the foundation of the ICD-11, rather than a separate repository of material associated with the ICD-10 as it was in the past (previously referred to as Clinical Descriptions and Diagnostic Guidelines; CDDG). Up until now, countries have been using ICD-10 codes for governmental, quality assurance, reimbursement, and morbidity and mortality reporting purposes, and countries have used the CDDG in varying degrees in clinical and direct service settings…The CDDR aligns much more closely with the foundational structure of the ICD-11, so it has sparked additional considerations for moving forward that may vary from country to country. Overall, the integration of the CDDR into the ICD-11 is an important and meaningful change.”   


The development and publication of the ICD-11 is a step forward in systematically recording, analyzing, and comparing health data within and across national boundaries. It will be a major tool in reducing disease burden and enhancing the health of populations worldwide. 

We are deeply appreciative of all the members of the Global Clinical Practice Network who participated and contributed to this meaningful and important undertaking. We look forward to continuing to focus efforts on implementation and training related to the ICD-11.

The online version of the official 2022 ICD-11 for use by WHO Member States can be accessed here, and more information on the ICD-11 can be found here