The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare is designated as the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for the Family of International Classifications (WHO-FIC) in Australia.

The Australian Collaborating Centre (ACC) assists the WHO with their efforts to support national and international health information systems, statistics and evidence.

The ACC is part of a Network of collaborating centres that contribute to the development, dissemination, maintenance and use of products that help categorise concepts in health and the health system.

The scope of this work is to:

  1. Assist WHO in its work to develop, maintain and revise the WHO Family of International Classifications.
  2. Contribute to the global network of WHO Collaborating Centres in Family of International Classifications under WHO’s leadership.
  3. At the request of WHO provide support for local and regional users of classifications.
  4. In support of and in coordination with WHO, promote use of the WHO-FIC as and when appropriate by developing, and sharing training materials, organising and conducting training courses and translating international WHO-FIC materials for local use, in coordination with WHO.
  5. Support WHO to strengthen the implementation of WHO classifications, supporting quality assurance procedures of the WHO-FIC classification regarding mechanisms, norms and standards of classification use, data collection, and analytics.

Recent activities that the ACC has participated in to contribute to the goals are:

  • Establishing the Australian ICD-11 Task Force in May 2022 to develop a Roadmap of activities that will inform a decision on Australian ICD-11 implementation.
  • Presenting and participating in WPRO webinar series on the reference classifications, proposal platform and ICD uses.
  • Hosting a symposium for International Classification of Functioning (ICF) to bring together specialists on an international level to provide information about and the potential of ICF.

WHO-FIC Network committee and reference groups

To support the WHO’s work on international classifications a network of WHO Collaborating Centres (the WHO-FIC Network) was established in 1970.

The mission of the WHO-FIC Network is to improve health through the ongoing development, maintenance, and promotion of an integrated suite of reference health classifications and related products that produce information of value and utility across the world. 

The following strategic principles guide the WHO-FIC Network's activities: 

  • to deliver classifications and related products that are fit for purpose, responsive to the needs of users and changing environments, and validated internationally using evidence-based methods; 
  • to build partnerships with health information communities, policymakers and planners, clinician and health care provider groups, consumer groups;
  • to serve users globally in Member States and among stakeholder groups.

The WHO-FIC Network committees and their purposes are:

  • The Education and Implementation Committee (EIC) assists and advises WHO and the WHO-FIC Network on implementing WHO classifications, focusing on reference classifications and improving the level and quality of their use in WHO Member States. The EIC tracks implementation of the classifications and develops implementation, education, training and certification strategies for the WHO-FIC, identifying best training and implementation practices and providing a network for sharing expertise and experience on training and implementation. 
  • The Family Development Committee (FDC) aims to ensure that the WHO-FIC has a logical structure so that the classifications needed for each component and setting within the health system can be identified. The Committee identifies and prioritises gaps in the WHO-FIC. It sets criteria for and assesses potential new member classifications against these criteria. As necessary, the Committee will work with proprietors of classifications that could fill a gap in the WHO-FIC and recommend appropriate relationships between WHO and the proprietor. The Committee may also suggest strategies for developing or revising WHO-FIC classifications, but the revision itself would be undertaken elsewhere. 
  • The Informatics and Terminology Committee (ITC) follows the development of electronic versions of WHO-FIC classifications and corresponding terminologies. It develops policies on electronic standards used for WHO-FIC classifications and related terminologies and promotes their international implementation. It aims to ensure the availability and consistency of applications and electronic tools for the WHO-FIC. The Committee fosters standardisation of concepts underlying clinical terminologies and the WHO classifications to facilitate the common use of WHO-FIC classifications and international terminologies. 
  • The Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee (MSAC) is a related committee that supports the WHO and the WHO-FIC Network in keeping the reference classifications of the WHO-FIC in line with current medical and scientific knowledge. The membership of the MSAC is determined by the WHO.

The reference groups allow the WHO-FIC Network to provide for more technical discussions and participation by a wider range of experts and interested parties. The current WHO-FIC reference groups and their purposes are:

  • The Mortality Reference Group (MRG) aims at improving the international comparability of mortality data. To this end, the MRG identifies and solves problems related to the interpretation and application of ICD to mortality, supports the development of internationally applicable software for mortality coding and classification, and addresses the analysis and assessment of mortality statistics. The MRG prepares updates to the ICD for consideration in the appropriate update committee(s).
  • The Morbidity Reference Group (MbRG) identifies, discusses, and solves problems related to interpreting and applying ICD to morbidity coding and classification by developing agreed-upon coding rules and guidelines. The MbRG makes annual recommendations to the appropriate update committee(s).
  • The Functioning and Disability Reference Group (FDRG) advises the WHO-FIC Network and identifies and solves problems related to the interpretation and application of ICF to documentation and coding of functioning data for specific use cases (e.g. rehabilitation and social medicine). The chief aim is to improve the quality and comparability of national and international data that describes functioning, disability and health by enhancing the appropriate use of the ICF. The FDRG supports updates to the ICF and makes annual recommendations to the appropriate update committee(s). The FDRG also identifies and solves problems related to the interpretation and application of ICF based assessment instruments (i.e. WHO Disability Assessment Schedule, WHO DAS 2.0).
  • The Traditional Medicine Reference Group (TMRG) aims to improve the quality and comparability of national and international TM morbidity data and the application of the ICD-11 TM Chapter by analysing and integrating needs deriving from clinical documentation, statistical reports, reimbursement and other use cases.
  • The Verbal Autopsy Reference Group (VARG) aims to improve the quality and comparability of national and international Verbal Autopsy processes and resultant mortality data.

Further information about the Australian Collaborating Centre

The Head of the WHO Collaborating Centre for the Family of International Classifications Australia is Michael Frost, Senior Executive of the AIHW’s Primary Health Care, Information Standards and Communications Group .

For further information on the work of the WHO-FIC Network or the Australian Collaborating Centre please contact the secretariat. 

Contact details

Secretariat, Australian WHO-FIC Collaborating Centre

PO Box 570

Canberra ACT 2601

[email protected]