WHO publishes first essential diagnostics list

16 May 2018 (Last Updated May 16th, 2018 12:15)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has unveiled the first Essential Diagnostics List, a catalogue of 113 in-vitro tests to diagnose the most common and global priority diseases.

WHO publishes first essential diagnostics list
An accurate diagnosis is the first step to getting effective treatment. Credit: WHO/A. Craggs.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has unveiled the first Essential Diagnostics List, a catalogue of 113 in-vitro tests to diagnose the most common and global priority diseases.

The move is intended to address the lack of access to diagnostic services or accurate diagnosis, resulting in patients failing to receive the correct treatment.

Similar to the WHO essential medicines list, the new list is meant to act as a reference for countries to update or devise their own list of essential diagnostics.

“Of the total tests, 58 are listed for detection and diagnosis of several common conditions. The remaining 55 are for identifying, diagnosing and monitoring priority diseases.”

WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “An accurate diagnosis is the first step to getting effective treatment.

“No one should suffer or die because of a lack of diagnostic services, or because the right tests were not available.”

Of the total tests, 58 are listed for detection and diagnosis of several common conditions. The remaining 55 are for identifying, diagnosing and monitoring priority diseases such as HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, hepatitis B and C, syphilis and human papillomavirus.

Among these, certain tests are specific for primary healthcare facilities and do not require trained personnel, while some are particular for larger medical facilities.

The list also indicates the type, intended use and format of a test, as well as provides links to WHO Guidelines or publications and relevant prequalified products.

WHO Access to Medicines assistant director-general Mariângela Simão said: “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.

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

The agency plans to regularly update the diagnostics list and expand it over the coming years by adding other segments such as antimicrobial resistance, emerging pathogens and neglected tropical diseases.