In general, the WHO Family of International Classifications aims

  • to establish a common language  to improve communication
  • to permit comparisons of data across countries' health-care disciplines, services and time
  • to provide a conceptual framework of information dimensions which are related to health and health management
  • to serve as the framework of international standards to provide the building blocks of health information systems.


  1. Reference classifications These are the classifications that cover the main parameters of the health system, such as death, disease, functioning, disability, health and health interventions. WHO reference classifications are a product of international agreements. They have achieved broad acceptance and official agreement for use and are approved and recommended as guidelines for international reporting on health.
  2. Derived classifications are based upon reference classifications. Derived classifications may be prepared either by adopting the reference classification structure and classes, providing additional detail beyond that provided by the reference classification or they may be prepared through rearrangement or aggregation of items from one or more reference classifications. Derived classifications are often tailored for use at the national or international level.
  3. Related classifications are those that partially refer to reference classifications, or that are associated with the reference classification at specific levels of the structure only.