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Global industry associations speak out against World Health Organisation 'gaming disorder'

Global industry associations speak out against World Health Organisation 'gaming disorder'

Seven industry associations have joined in condemning the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) current review of its list on classification of diseases (ICD).

ICD is widely used as a manual by practitioners and importantly is implemented by many countries in their national health policies. The current draft proposes to add “gaming” under the section that deals with ‘Disorders due to addictive behaviours’ (category 06) which also deals with alcohol, drugs, gambling.

The updated list is due to be published this month and will be open for consultation before the WHO General Assembly formally approves the list in May 2019.

The joint statement reads:

“In view of the publication by the WHO of the so-called ICD-11 list, organisations representing video game publishers and developers across the world would like to express their concern:
“Video games across all kinds of genres, devices and platforms are enjoyed safely and sensibly by more than 2 billion people worldwide, with the educational, therapeutic, and recreational value of games being well-founded and widely recognised. We are therefore concerned to see ‘gaming disorder’ still contained in the latest version of the WHO’s ICD-11 despite significant opposition from the medical and scientific community. The evidence for its inclusion remains highly contested and inconclusive. We hope that the WHO will reconsider the mounting evidence put before them before proposing inclusion of ‘gaming disorder’ in the final version of ICD-11 to be endorsed next year. We understand that our industry and supporters around the world will continue raising their voices in opposition to this move and urge the WHO to avoid taking steps that would have unjustified implications for national health systems across the world.”

In addition, the Entertainment Software Association (US) issued a separate statement:

“It is extremely important to note that the proposed draft circulating is not final and it is still under discussion and review. Experts worldwide are urging caution regarding the World Health Organization’s proposed ‘gaming disorder’ as it may lead to misdiagnosis of real mental health conditions. It is concerning to see the ‘gaming disorder’ proposal in this draft despite significant opposition from the medical and scientific community. The research supporting inclusion is highly contested and inconclusive. There is no objective evidence to define and diagnose overuse and that may result in misdiagnosis. The WHO should consider the mounting evidence put before them before inclusion next year of ‘gaming disorder’ in the final version of ICD-11.”

The ICD-11 beta draft can be consulted here.

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