The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday declared loneliness a global public health threat, saying that the mortality effects can be comparable to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.
“High rates of social isolation and loneliness around the world have serious consequences for health and well-being. People without enough strong social connections are at higher risk of stroke, anxiety, dementia, depression, suicide, and more,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
To combat the problem, WHO at the same time launched a new Commission on Social Connection, which according to a news release, would “address loneliness as a pressing health threat, promote social connection as a priority and accelerate the scaling up of solutions in countries of all incomes.”
The commission would run for three years, co-chaired by U.S. Surgeon General, Dr Vivek Murthy, and African Union Youth Envoy, Chido Mpemba.
“The Commission consists of 11 leading policy-makers, thought leaders, and advocates. It will analyse the central role social connection plays in improving health for people of all ages and outline solutions to build social connections at scale,” explained WHO in its release.
The commission would hold it’s first leadership-level meeting from December 6 to 8, which then would be followed by a flagship report released by the mid-point of the three-year initiative.