"Together, we can build a world that is less lonely, healthier and more resilient,” U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared loneliness to be a global issue and has launched an international commission to combat it.
Earlier this week, the WHO launched the Commission on Social Connection, which, according to a news release, aims "to 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 group is led by U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and African Union Youth Envoy Chido Mpemba and also includes "11 leading policy-makers, thought leaders and advocates," per the release.
The new commission will run for the next three years and will look at how loneliness and social isolation can affect physical, mental and emotional health, with Murthy, 46, suggesting that the effects can be just as bad as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day, and even greater than those seen in relation to obesity and not maintaining one's physical health.
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“I am thrilled to work closely with an outstanding group of Commissioners on advancing social connection – a vital component of well-being. Together, we can build a world that is less lonely, healthier, and more resilient,” Murthy said in a statement.
He added, “Given the profound health and societal consequences of loneliness and isolation, we have an obligation to make the same investments in rebuilding the social fabric of society that we have made in addressing other global health concerns, such as tobacco use, obesity, and the addiction crisis.“
In a statement of her own, Mpemba, 35, said, “Young people are not immune to loneliness. Social isolation can affect anyone, of any age, anywhere."
"Across Africa and beyond, we must redefine the narrative around loneliness," she continued. "Investments in social connection are critical to creating productive, resilient and stable economies that promote the well-being of current and future generations."
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