New Conventions of Social Acceptability in Disease Names (BBC News / WHO)


There appears to be a widespread trend towards adopting more socially acceptable naming conventions for the description and categorisation of diseases and conditions. The World Health Organisation (WHO) is the latest international body to encourage the adoption of terminology which will not offend or stigmatise people, regions, countries, animals and so on.

The WHO has issued advice for scientists and commentators in the media when choosing names or discussing topics. Names should contain generic terms which are easy to pronounce, and should avoid stigmatisation of specific cultures, groups, regions and economies.

“WHO, in consultation and collaboration with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), has identified best practices for the naming of new human diseases, with the aim to minimize unnecessary negative impact of disease names on trade, travel, tourism or animal welfare, and avoid causing offence to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional or ethnic groups”.

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WHO issues disease-naming advice to avoid offence. London: BBC Health News, May 9th 2015.

This relates to:

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World Health Organization best practices for the naming of new human infectious diseases. [Geneva?]: World Health Organization, May 2015.

The Naming of COVID-19

Full Text Link


Taylor-Coleman, J. (2020). How the new coronavirus will finally get a proper name. London: BBC Health News / BBC World News, February 5th 2020.

Full Text Link


Coronavirus disease named Covid-19. London: BBC Health News, February 11th 2020.

Public Over-Sensitivity? Reaction About Comments on Recovery of Boris (the COVID-19 Patient)

Terminology as an issue? Inciting a minor war about the term “Battle”?

Full Text Link


Parkinson, J. (2020). Coronavirus: Why do we talk about ‘fighting’ illness? London: BBC Health News / BBC Politics News, April 9th 2020.

About Dementia and Elderly Care News

Dementia and Elderly Care News. Wolverhampton Medical Institute: WMI. (jh)
This entry was posted in BBC News, Diagnosis, For Doctors (mostly), For Nurses and Therapists (mostly), For Researchers (mostly), In the News, International, Quick Insights, Standards, Universal Interest, World Health Organization (WHO) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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