5 JUNE 2017 – The 20th WHO Model List of Essential Medicines was published on 6 June this year, with a number of important new additions, including a recommendation by the Expert Committee on the Selection of Essential Medicines that WHO develop an Essential Diagnostics List (EDL). Based on that recommendation, WHO has begun to lay the ground for the preparation of the list, which will become an important contribution to Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Like the established Essential Medicines List, the EDL is intended to provide evidence-based guidance to countries to create their own national lists of essential diagnostic tests and tools. National essential medicines lists have been successful in facilitating access to treatment and promoting affordable prices, particularly in low-resourced countries, by prioritizing the most important medicines all countries need to make available to their populations. It is expected that national essential diagnostics lists will provide the same benefits for diagnostic tests.
“It’s clear that treatment if an illness will not be effective if it is not diagnosed correctly,” said Dr Suzanne Hill, WHO Director of Essential Medicines and Health Products. “The EDL will be another useful tool to help countries address their disease burden by focusing on evidence-based diagnostic tools.”
The WHO Expert Committee on the Selection and Use of Essential Medicines acknowledged that diagnostic tests are essential to “diagnose the disease or subpopulation for which certain medicines may be indicated, and to monitor the medication effectiveness or toxicity. Furthermore, often the diagnosis has important implications for prognosis. The Committee recognized that Member States and countries might seek advice about which technologies to prioritize, how to shift from one technology to another, and which technologies should accompany essential medicines since they are strongly interconnected.”