The World Health Organization (WHO) has just announced a list of essential diagnostic tests. The list also acts as a guideline for countries that create their test lists. This way, WHO will help countries to focus their resources on identifying and prioritizing the common illnesses.
Experts working with the WHO and other experts from outside the organization have developed a list of the essential diagnostics. WHO explains that it’s a list similar to the medicine list that has been used in the last four decades.
The last meeting of the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on In-Vitro Diagnostics was at Geneva. There, the group reviewed and finished the list.
People With Illnesses Are Not Diagnosed, or It’s Too Late
Estimates from WHO shows that 46% of adults that have type 2 diabetes aren’t diagnosed. This is a problem, as it complicates the health risks, and increases the healthcare costs. 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 difficult to treat.
The WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD., stated that diagnosis is the first step to treating a disease:
“No one should suffer or die because of a lack of diagnostic services, or because the right tests were not available.”
The list released by the WHO focuses on blood or urine tests, containing 113 products. Out of them, 58 products are used to diagnose and monitor medical conditions that are non-communicable and communicable. They form the basis for screening the patient and managing the illness. The rest of 55 products focus on detecting, diagnosing and monitoring diseases like HIV, TBC, malaria, hepatitis B, C, HPV, and syphilis.
Guidance for Countries and Developers: Tests Must Be Affordable, Safe and of High-Quality
The diagnostic tests contain guidance from WHO: programs, assessment processes, and technical manuals to describe specific test and what’s their biological target.
The list contains two parts. The first one focuses on primary health care and essential diagnosis, with tests that target specific diseases. The second one is aimed at facilities that have clinical labs.
The WHO’s assistant director-general for access to medicines, vaccines, and pharmaceuticals, Mariangela Simao, said that the list is not only a tool to guide countries and developers, but it’s also a signal to them that the tests on the list must be affordable, safe and of a high-quality.
Furthermore, WHO expects in the next years that the list will expand to also focus on antimicrobial resistance, emerging pathogens, neglected tropical diseases, or diseases that are not communicable.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.