WHO Essential Diagnostics List provides guide to tools needed for global health responses

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Tools to diagnose and monitor HIV, hepatitis B and C, and tuberculosis, as well as resistance to first-line TB treatment are among the tests included in World Health Organization’s first List of Essential In Vitro Diagnostics, released Tuesday. The list, divided into tests needed in primary health care settings that can include community health centers and doctors’ offices, and settings with trained technicians and laboratory equipment that include hospitals, augments, and comes four decades after WHO’s development of its list of essential medicines.

The release of the list follows calls across research and global health advocacy groups for WHO to develop a resource to guide donors and governments in filling a global gap in the first step to individual treatment as well as to critical public health responses. The list is hoped to strengthen health systems as well as treatment and surveillance of illnesses and conditions presenting widespread individual and public health challenges, improve care, and reduce risks of resistance to treatments by ensuring that treatment is appropriate and effective. WHO said it will continue to evaluate needs to update and expand the list.

The Global Health Technologies Coaltion, among groups that had urged the development of the list, applauded its release in a statement Tuesday, adding: “It’s also critical that WHO continue[s] to explore ways to use future iterations of the EDL to identify unmet diagnostic needs and spur development of critically-needed tools that do not yet exist.”

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