World Health Organization releases first-ever 'Essential Diagnostics List' to reduce premature deaths

World Health Organization releases first-ever 'Essential Diagnostics List' to reduce premature deaths

According to Professor Madhukar Pai, Director of Global Health Programmes, McGill University, Canada, the first WHO list of essential tests to improve diagnosis is extremely timely.

Health specialists say fundamental diagnostics are crucial to enhancing access to therapy and though the government has already been operating in the path to create diagnostic facilities available and accessible to all, the WHO's Essential Diagnostics List is very likely to function as a benchmark for states to upgrade or create their own collection of essential diagnostics. For example, illnesses like HIV or TBC have a more chance to spread if not diagnosed in time, thus affecting the whole community and making the illness hard to treat. WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement that an accurate diagnosis was the first step towards receiving effective treatment.

Most people around the world are unable to get tested for diseases because they can not access diagnostic services. The list is a catalogue of the tests needed to diagnose the most common conditions as well as a number of global priority diseases.

What kind of medical tests does the Essential Diagnostics List include?

The rest of 55 products focus on detecting, diagnosing and monitoring diseases like HIV, TBC, malaria, hepatitis B, C, HPV, 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. The list doesn't specify specific brands but describes them based on their biological targets. The list also provides links to WHO Guidelines or publications and, when available, to prequalified products. For example, the World Health Organization said tests to rapidly diagnose a child for malaria or to test for diabetes don't require electricity or trained personnel.

Mariangela Simao, the WHO's assistant director-general for access to medicines, vaccines, and pharmaceuticals, said that besides offering a tool for countries, the document serves as a signal to countries and developers that tests on the list must be high-quality, safe, and affordable. The out-of-pocket expenses which many face due to the long list of diagnosis has made it imperative to have a list of essential diagnostics.

The WHO 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.

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