International Standard

The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is the standard diagnostic tool for epidemiology, health management and clinical purposes. This includes the analysis of the general health situation of population groups. It is used to monitor the incidence and prevalence of diseases and other health problems, providing a picture of the general health situation of countries and populations.

Browse ICD-10

Health Statistics

WHO/Jonathan Perugia
WHO/Jonathan Perugia

ICD is used by physicians, nurses, other providers, researchers, health information managers and coders, health information technology workers, policy-makers, insurers and patient organizations to classify diseases and other health problems recorded on many types of health and vital records, including death certificates and health records. In addition to enabling the storage and retrieval of diagnostic information for clinical, epidemiological and quality purposes, these records also provide the basis for the compilation of national mortality and morbidity statistics by WHO Member States.

ICD-11 Revision

All Member States use the ICD which has been translated into 43 languages. Most countries (117) use the system to report mortality data, a primary indicator of health status.

ICD-10 was endorsed by the Forty-third World Health Assembly in May 1990 and came into use in WHO Member States as from 1994. ICD is currently under revision, through an ongoing Revision Process, and the release date for ICD-11 is 2017.

Multilingual & Multipurpose

Molly Meri Robinson Nicol

ICD has been translated into 43 languages.

ICD is increasingly used in clinical care and research to define diseases and study disease patterns, as well as manage health care, monitor outcomes and allocate resources.

WHO provides user guidance in the form of an instruction manual for ICD-10 (Volume 2) to guide users to the correct ICD-10 code.

ICD-10 classification in various formats such as ClaML and other related materials can be downloaded from our download area. You will need to register and accept the license before downloading.

WHO/Molly Meri Robinson Nicol

The International Conference for the Tenth Revision of the ICD held in Geneva from 26 September to 2 October 1989 recommended that "…WHO should endorse the concept of an updating process between revisions and give consideration as to how an effective updating mechanism could be put in place".

Although the first updates to the classification were approved at the annual meeting of WHO Collaborating Centres for the Family of International Classifications in Tokyo, Japan in 1996, the current formal mechanisms to guide the updating process were not established until later. Two separate bodies were established to manage the updating process: the Mortality Reference Group (MRG) in 1998, and the Updating and Revision Committee (URC) in 2000.

The URC receives proposals via the update proposal platforms for the Family of International Classifications. The URC considers the proposals and submits recommendations on proposed updates to the WHO-FIC Network who, in turn, makes recommendations to WHO.

History of ICD

The first international classification edition, known as the International List of Causes of Death, was adopted by the International Statistical Institute in 1893.

WHO was entrusted with the ICD at its creation in 1948 and published the 6th version, ICD-6, that incorporated morbidity for the first time. The WHO Nomenclature Regulations, adopted in 1967, stipulated that Member States use the most current ICD revision for mortality and morbidity statistics. The ICD has been revised and published in a series of editions to reflect advances in health and medical science over time.

ICD-10 was endorsed in May 1990 by the Forty-third World Health Assembly. It is cited in more than 20,000 scientific articles and used by more than 100 countries around the world.

ICD purpose and uses

ICD is the foundation for the identification of health trends and statistics globally, and the international standard for reporting diseases and health conditions. It is the diagnostic classification standard for all clinical and research purposes. ICD defines the universe of diseases, disorders, injuries and other related health conditions, listed in a comprehensive, hierarchical fashion that allows for:
- easy storage, retrieval and analysis of health information for evidenced-based decision-making;
- sharing and comparing health information between hospitals, regions, settings and countries; and
- data comparisons in the same location across different time periods.

Uses include monitoring of the incidence and prevalence of diseases, observing reimbursements and resource allocation trends, and keeping track of safety and quality guidelines. They also include the counting of deaths as well as diseases, injuries, symptoms, reasons for encounter, factors that influence health status, and external causes of disease.

Additional Information

Page updated on 29 June 2016