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WHO announces an International Commission to combat the critical threat of loneliness

On identifying loneliness as a serious health threat, the World Health Organization is set to help people battle the issue.

WHO announces an International Commission to combat the critical threat of loneliness
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | Lukas Rychvalsky

Being alone is quite different from feeling lonely. There are millions of people around the world who are battling loneliness at home or their workplace where their actual social connection does not reach up to their desired social connection. As medical experts identified loneliness to be a "critical health threat," the World Health Organization endeavors to offer support to people dealing with the issue by launching a new Commission on Social Connections. In a press release issued on November 15, WHO announced this International Commission co-chaired by U.S. Surgeon General, Dr Vivek Murthy, and African Union Youth Envoy, Chido Mpemba, along with 11 other leading policy-makers, thought leaders and advocates.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Pixabay
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Pixabay

The goal of this three-year commission is "to analyze the central role social connection plays in improving health for people of all ages and outline solutions to build social connections at scale." Irrespective of the country's economic levels, these solutions will be catalyzed worldwide and their results will be monitored for progress in terms of economic and social well-being. WHO denotes that "having an insufficient number of social connections" and "the social pain of not feeling connected" impacts people of all age groups worldwide. The press release revealed that one in four older people experience social isolation and 5-15% of adolescents battle loneliness worldwide. Denoting how bad the physical and mental impacts of lack of social connection are, WHO assures a "global agenda on social connection" and aims for "raising awareness and building collaborations that will drive evidence-based solutions for countries, communities and individuals."

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Pixabay
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Pixabay


WHO Director-General, Dr.Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stated: "People without enough strong social connections are at higher risk of stroke, anxiety, dementia, depression, suicide and more." He reassured, "This WHO Commission will help establish social connection as a global health priority and share the most promising interventions." Dr.Murthy optimistically said in a statement, "I am thrilled to work closely with an outstanding group of Commissioners on advancing social connection – a vital component of well-being. Together, we can build a world that is less lonely, healthier and more resilient."

Murthy added, "Given the profound health and societal consequences of loneliness and isolation, we have an obligation to make the same investments in rebuilding the social fabric of society that we have made in addressing other global health concerns, such as tobacco use, obesity and the addiction crisis."

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WHO indicated the severity of social disconnection among youth who tend to exhibit poor educational outcomes, drop out of university and even decline in job satisfaction or performance. Chido Mpemba said in a statement, “Young people are not immune to loneliness. Social isolation can affect anyone, of any age, anywhere. Across Africa and beyond, we must redefine the narrative around loneliness. Investments in social connection are critical to creating productive, resilient and stable economies that promote the well-being of current and future generations.” The international commission is all set to reach out to those combatting loneliness and offer therapeutic support. WHO posted on Instagram about the ways to combat loneliness sharing, "If you’re feeling lonely, here are some things you can do to feel better and for your health."

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