The World Health Organization (WHO) has updated its Essential Diagnostics List that for the first time includes WHO-recommended COVID-19 tests, and urged countries to prioritise investments in testing.
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WHO has been publishing a yearly essential diagnostics list (EDL) since 2018. The list includes recommended in vitro diagnostics that should be available at primary care or community level and in laboratories across the world. This year, the EDL reflects the new pandemic realities with the inclusion of COVID-19 tests (PCR and Antigen), as well as expands the array of tests for multiple diseases, both communicable and non-communicable. The document also introduces a section on endocrinology and provides a list of tests that should not be used either because due to their low cost-efficiency and reliability, or because they use outdated technology.
As an evidence-based guide, the EDL assesses the global state of health and provides a test recommendation for each condition. Following the guide should improve the overall level of diagnostics in healthcare setting and, consequently, help save health resources. Besides laboratory tests, the list includes diagnostics tools for point-of-care, which is particularly important in low-resource setting.
The EDL recommendations are evidence-based and account for national conditions. The recommendations are developed under the supervision of the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on In Vitro Diagnostics (SAGE IVD) who assess each test’s usefulness, impact and accuracy. The EDL is not binding, it is a tool countries may use to guide their testing policies. In the nearest future, WHO plans the publication of a guide to assist countries that are willing to develop national policies, based on its previous collaborations with Nigeria, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
The EDL can be downloaded here.