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WHO publishes first ‘essential diagnostics list’

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In the backdrop of the fact that many people worldwide don’t have access to diagnostic services which proves costly at times,  the World Health Organisation (WHO) has published its first ‘essential diagnostics list’.

It is a catalogue of tests which are needed to diagnose the most common conditions as well as a number of global priority diseases.

“An accurate diagnosis is the first step to getting effective treatment. No one should suffer or die because of lack of diagnostic services, or because the right tests were not available,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

An estimated 46 per cent of adults with Type 2 diabetes worldwide are undiagnosed, risking serious health complications and higher health costs, a statement by WHO said.

Late diagnosis of infectious diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis increases the risk of their spread and makes them more difficult to treat, it further said.

The diagnostics list concentrates on in vitro tests like blood and urine. It also contains 58 tests 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.

“Our aim is to provide a tool that can be useful to all countries, to test and treat better, but also to use health funds more efficiently by concentrating on the truly essential tests,” says Mariângela Simão, WHO Assistant Director-General for Access to Medicines, Vaccines and Pharmaceuticals.

“Our other goal is to signal to countries and developers that the tests in the list must be of good quality, safe and affordable,” Simão said.

Some of the tests are particularly suitable for primary health care facilities, where laboratory services are often poorly resourced and sometimes non-existent.

For each category of test, 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.

WHO will update the Essential Diagnostics List on a regular basis.

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