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IF joins Global WHO Birth Defects Technical Working Group

1 July 2019

1 July 2019 / / IF Secretary General Lieven Bauwens has been officially appointed as a member of the Global WHO Birth Defects Technical Working Group ((BD TWG). One of the tasks of the (BD TWG) is to provide advice to the World Health Organization (WHO) in connection with the development and dissemination of tools for monitoring of birth defects.

Currently, the Working Group is focusing on an updated version of the WHO Birth Defects Atlas of selected congenital anomalies. Neural tube defects (NTDs), such as spina bifida and anencephaly, are included in the atlas, as they have a high probability of being captured soon after birth, or – where prenatal diagnostics are available – even before birth. In addition, NTDs can have a significant public health impact, and there is a well-known potential for primary prevention.

The atlas, and the accompanying manual for programme managers, which will be updated too, will help the initial care providers to recognise and correctly code birth defects, through selected illustrations and photographs. Countries can use these tools to develop, implement and continuously improve of a birth defects surveillance programme.

The BD TWG will also be asked to advise WHO on measures that can be taken to increase country level capacity to implement surveillance of birth defects and analyse data, and to advise WHO on the design of preventive strategies for the prevention of birth defects.