The World Health Organization (WHO) released for the first time a list of diagnostic tests that are imperative to every health care system around the world, similar to the Organization’s list of essential-medicines list that was published in 1977.  The diagnostics list includes 113 diagnostics, of which 58 are tests for blood, urine, red and white blood cells, liver enzymes, transfusion blood-typing and other routine tests that are commonly conducted in US medical offices. The remaining 55 tests are for diseases rated as a top priority by the WHO: HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HPV and syphilis. The WHO hopes to extend the tests covered in the diagnostic list by including other tests for viruses such as flu, bacterial antibiotic resistance, cancer and heart disease.

The WHO also plans to publish an essential “devices” category. This list was initially supposed to be released in 2003, but was blocked by the pharmaceuticals industry. This list will include equipment that can be used for diagnostic analysis, such as x-ray scanners, ultrasounds, fiber optic scopes and PCR machines.

The WHO aims to set universal standards and motivate countries to develop and outfit the labs that are needed to conduct the tests. By doing so, the fragmented diagnostics industry will have targets to reach, ideally leading to lower prices. For example, if equipment manufacturers know that a particular type of equipment is the WHO standard, they will compete to make it, which will result in a drop in prices for patients.

SourceNew York Times

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