NCBO User Profile: T.B. Üstün, World Health Organization

Using NCBO Technology to Improve Global Health Outcomes
at the World Health Organization (WHO)


“NCBO services made it very simple for our developers to import entries from other terminologies directly into the ICD…NCBO technology has changed completely the way that we are thinking about the revision.”



   Dr. T.B.  Üstün

   Team Coordinator

   Classification, Terminologies and Standards

   Department of Health Statistics and Informatics

   World Health Organization



WHO and ICD-11: 

WHO coordinates health issues at the United Nations.  It provides leadership on global health matters, shapes the health research agenda, sets norms and standards, articulates evidence-based policy options, provides technical support to countries, and monitors and assesses health trends.


The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) is an internationally agreed upon classification system.  Every health condition has a unique category and code.  It is used across the globe for a wide variety of health service and research purposes and to promote international comparisons.  WHO is undertaking the 11th revision of the ICD, which is scheduled for completion in 2015.


NCBO Technology and ICD-11:

Medical terminology is filled with unstructured lexicons, overlapping content, and varied forms of recording data.  As shown in the figure, completing ICD-11 will require organization of this diverse vocabulary across a vast number of categories and data sources. 


WHO is making extensive use of NCBO technologies to meet the challenge. Perhaps most critical is BioPortal’s role in consolidating terminologies and ontologies in one virtual place.  Participants in the ICD revision process have taken advantage of this capability and made extensive use of BioPortal’s annotation, mapping, and notes capabilities.