Due to an increase in vaping-related illnesses in the United States in recent months, mostly afflicting healthy young people, the World Health Organization has introduced International Classification of Diseases 10 code U07.0, an international tool for classifying and monitoring diseases.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the tool would be used immediately for reporting of acutely ill patients who have used electronic cigarettes in the last 90 days, with no other plausible causes for illness.
With 1,299 cases and 26 deaths reported, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Food and Drug Administration are currently investigating the reports.
In support of WHO’s efforts, Duque said the DOH urges all government and private hospitals, clinics and other health facilities to use proper codes for designating vaping-related disorders.
This would allow existing health information systems to capture data on vaping-related disorders.
Information on the potential harm of novel and emerging nicotine products can guide future policy directions for electronic cigarettes.
All health and allied health professionals are urged to be vigilant in identifying risks during routine clinical evaluations by taking the history of tobacco use and use of e-cigarettes or vapes in all patients. DOH also calls on the medical community, parents and teachers to help address the widespread use of electronic cigarettes, particularly among the youth and young adults.
Duque called on users, especially pregnant women and young adults, to stop immediately and refrain from vaping and using all forms of e-cigarettes.
“People who have recently used e-cigarettes or other vaping products should immediately seek medical attention if they develop respiratory symptoms,” Duque said.
The DOH, together with the WHO and medical societies, warned the public on the harmful effects of electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products.
“Electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products are sold in the market as alternatives for smokers trying to wean themselves off tobacco,” he said.
“Some studies claim that they contain fewer toxic chemicals and are less harmful alternatives to cigarettes. We do not support their claim of reduced harm. These products endanger the health of both users and non-users, and are clearly not meant for children,” added Duque.