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Tuesday, September 6, 2016, 18:30

WHO forum looks into dangers of overusing internet


A World Health Organization (WHO) meeting opened on Tuesday in Hong Kong to raise public awareness and look into solutions to possible behavioral disorders arising after excessive use of mobile and internet devices.

The three-day meeting – Policy and Programmes Responses to Mental and Behavioural Disorders Associated with Excessive Use of the Internet and other Communication and Gaming Platforms – co-organized with the Department of Health (DH), brought together experts from 20 countries, WHO advisers and local stakeholders.

Participants will share and update information and discuss the way forward to prevent and reduce public health problems associated with excessive use of the internet and electronic devices, according to the DH.

Meanwhile, they are expected to discuss usable practices and evidence-based interventions. By doing so, more experts will be able to identify challenges, prioritize actions and develop collaborative strategic approaches to address the problems, according to the DH.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Hong Kong's Director of Health Constance Chan Hon-yee stressed it is urgent for the public to be aware the potential risks associated with the increasing popularity of using the internet and mobile devices, as well as the age of going online and using electronic gadgets getting lower.

To address the concerns, Chan said the DH had convened the Advisory Group on Health Effects of Use of Internet and Electronic Screen Products in 2013, and set up a designated web page to give health tips and recommendations for various target populations.

On the international front, Chan vowed to work closely with the WHO and strengthen the network of partners who share a common concern for the subject.

This year’s meeting is the third organized by the WHO on the same issue since 2014. The topics cover health promotion and prevention as well as treatment policies on reducing public health problems.

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