News and Opinions  –  2017

Essential Diagnostics List (EDL) to be developed

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Along with the recommendations on antibiotics, the WHO Expert Committee on the Selection of Essential Medicines urged that an Essential Diagnostics List (EDL) be developed. Like the Essential Medicines List, the EDL would provide evidence-based guidance to countries to create their own national lists of essential diagnostic tests and tools.

National essential medicines lists have been successful in facilitating access to treatment and promoting affordable prices. Particularly in low-resourced countries, this by prioritizing the most important medicines all countries need to make available to their populations.

It is expected that national essential diagnostics lists will provide the same benefits for diagnostic tests. Diagnostic tests play an important role in determining whether a specific drug treatment is indicated or not as well as monitoring for effectiveness or toxicity.

The Committee also noted that Member States might require technical guidance on “which technologies to prioritize, how to shift from one technology to another, and which technologies should accompany essential medicines since they are strongly interconnected”. Towards these ends, WHO is putting together a Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on In Vitro Diagnostics (SAGE IVD). A NEJM perspective piece last year advocated for a Model List of Essential Diagnostics.

These efforts complement earlier discussions by the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), ReAct, Médecins sans Frontières and WHO to find ways of diagnosing bacterial from other infectious causes of acute fever—an important step to reduce the selective pressure on existing antibiotics.