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July 09, 2019

WHO updates medicine and diagnostic test recommendations for more than 150 countries

'Essential Medicines List' and 'List of Essential Diagnostics' have been updated

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These lists guide 150 countries around the world.

The World Health Organization is a leading authority for health care all over the world, which is why it’s important that it regularly updates guidelines and practices.

The organization announced Tuesday an update of its “Essential Medicines List” and “List of Essential Diagnostics” in hopes of helping countries prioritize the products that should be readily available and affordable across the globe.

The lists have a focus on cancer and other “global health challenges,” including more communicable and noncommunicable diseases, WHO said.

RELATED READ: Ebola soon to be deemed an international emergency, WHO says

“The inclusion in this list of some of the newest and most advanced cancer drugs is a strong statement that everyone deserves access to these life-saving medicines, not just those who can afford them,” said WHO's director-general, Dr, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a statement.

The lists were updated to include the following:


• WHO added five cancer therapies proven to have the best survival rates in the treatment of melanoma, lung, blood and prostate cancers.

• Antibiotic use categories were updated to indicate which antibiotics to use for the most common and serious infections to achieve better treatment outcomes and reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance.

• This list also includes heat-stable carbetocin for the prevention of postpartum hemorrhage and is beneficial in tropical countries, as it does not require refrigeration.


• A more complete outline of the general tests addressing diseases and conditions, such as iron tests and tests to diagnose thyroid malfunction and sickle cell.

• Added was a new section specific to the tests recommended for screening of blood donations.

• Twelve tests were added to detect a wide range of tumors, including: colorectal, liver, cervical, prostate, breast and germ cell cancers, as well as leukemia and lymphomas. 

View all of the updated guidelines here

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