Health

May 21, 2018

WHO publishes Essential Drug List

WHO publishes Essential Drug List

Drugs used to illustrate the story

The World Health Organisation, WHO, has published its first Essential Diagnostics List, a catalogue of the tests needed to diagnose the most common conditions as well as a number of global priority diseases.

Drugs

The list concentrates on invitro tests – i.e. tests of human specimens like blood and urine. It contains 113 products: 58 tests are listed for detection and diagnosis of a wide range of common conditions, providing an essential package that can form the basis for screening and management of patients. The remaining 55 tests are designed for the detection, diagnosis and monitoring of “priority” diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, hepatitis B and C, human papillomavirus and syphilis.

Some of the tests are particularly suitable for primary health care facilities, where laboratory services are often poorly resourced and sometimes non-existent. For example, tests that can rapidly diagnose a child for acute malaria or glucometers to test diabetes.  These tests do not require electricity or trained personnel. Other tests are more sophisticated and therefore intended for larger medical facilities.

For each category of tests, the Essential Diagnostics List specifies the type of test and intended use, format, and if appropriate for primary health care or for health facilities with laboratories. The list also provides links to WHO Guidelines or publications and, when available, to prequalified products.

The Essential Diagnostics List is intended to serve as a reference for countries to update or develop their own list of essential diagnostics. The List was developed following an extensive consultation within WHO and externally.

The list will expand significantly over the next few years, as it incorporates other important areas including antimicrobial resistance, emerging pathogens, neglected tropical diseases and additional noncommunicable diseases.