NEW YORK (360Dx) – Responding to a broad advocacy campaign, the World Health Organization said it will establish a new Essential Diagnostics List (EDL) to guide governments in supporting the use of diagnostic tools that need to be made available through their healthcare systems.
WHO will establish a strategic advisory group on in vitro diagnostics that will advise it about developing the list, Washington, DC-based Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) said Thursday.
GHTC participated in a global advocacy campaign in favor of the EDL with McGill University, the University of Michigan, the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, and other organizations.
Jamie Bay Nishi, director of GHTC, said in a statement that the “WHO took a welcome step forward this week in establishing an expert advisory body to stand up an Essential Diagnostics List. It is now imperative that WHO member nations ensure the agency has the financial resources it needs to fully implement the Essential Diagnostics List, so it can serve as an effective guiding force in improving access to diagnostics globally.”
Suzanne Hill, WHO Director of Essential Medicines and Health Products, said that "it’s clear that treatment of an illness will not be effective if it is not diagnosed correctly. The EDL will be another useful tool to help countries address their disease burden by focusing on evidence-based diagnostic tools.”
According to WHO, its Expert Committee on the Selection and Use of Essential Medicines has acknowledged that diagnostic tests are essential to diagnose the disease or subpopulation for which certain medicines may be indicated, and to monitor medication effectiveness or toxicity. It noted that the diagnosis often has important implications for prognosis.
WHO said that 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. Its committee also recommended that the EDL list initially focus on in vitro diagnostics for priority areas such as tuberculosis, malaria, HIV, and hepatitis B and C, but that it should be expanded as soon as possible to other important conditions, including other antimicrobials and non-communicable diseases.
WHO published its 20th Model List of Essential Medicines last week with new additions, including the recommendation that it develop an EDL. Based on that recommendation, it has begun to lay the foundation for preparation of the list, which will become an important contribution to universal health coverage, WHO said.