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LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 267-268

Improving the accessibility and availability of the essential medicines: World health organization


1 Member of the Medical Education Unit and Institute Research Council, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpaet District, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpaet District, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission13-Feb-2020
Date of Decision12-Mar-2020
Date of Acceptance26-Mar-2020
Date of Web Publication10-Jul-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (SBV) – Deemed to be University, Tiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpaet District, Tamil Nadu - 603 108
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/cmi.cmi_15_20

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How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Improving the accessibility and availability of the essential medicines: World health organization. Curr Med Issues 2020;18:267-8

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Improving the accessibility and availability of the essential medicines: World health organization. Curr Med Issues [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Aug 12];18:267-8. Available from: http://www.cmijournal.org/text.asp?2020/18/3/267/289406



Essential medicines refer to those medicines which meet the healthcare needs of a major section of the general population.[1] At the same time, it is a fact that most of the people across the globe fail to have regular access to these essential medicines.[1] This could be because of the deficient financial investment from the government, poor inventory control in health-care facilities, weaknesses in the primary healthcare, flaws in the existing policies to respond to out-of-pocket expenditures, etc.[1],[2] In the global mission to attain universal health coverage, regular access to an affordable and adequate number of medicines and vaccines has been strongly envisaged.[2]

It is vital to acknowledge that with the gradual gains accomplished by the nations towards universal health coverage and availability of affordable medicines, the next most important thing will be to ensure the presence of correct diagnostic tools, which in turn will aid in the delivery of appropriate treatment.[2] The World Health Organization has been involved in releasing the list of essential medicines for more than four decades now.[3] The released documents aid the nations to prioritize a selected set of the health products which should be made universally available at affordable costs throughout the health-care delivery systems.[3]

The essential medicines list has been updated even this year, and specific modifications have been made in the field of treatment of cancer based on therapeutic benefits, strengthening of antibiotic use based on the AWARE category concept, the introduction of new oral anticoagulants, etc.[3] The second list of essential diagnostics has also been released, and the list has been widened to cover a number of lifestyle diseases such as cancers and infectious diseases (namely, neglected diseases, influenza).[2] The list includes drugs (such as carbamazepine, dapsone, and insulin), vaccines (such as measles vaccine, rubella vaccine, and tetanus vaccine) and diagnostic tests (namely, hemoglobin levels for anemia, HIV 1/2 antibody for HIV testing).[2] In addition, the emphasis has been given toward the introduction of screening test for safe blood donation and detection of thyroid dysfunction and sickle cell anemia.[2]

The need of the hour is to ensure improvement in the accessibility and affordability of the essential medicines.[4] This could be accomplished by ensuring the wide adoption of biosimilars, which tend to have a major financial impact on the health system by reducing the cost of new cancer treatments and immune modifying agents.[3] At the same time, efforts should be taken to expand the role of medicines patent pool beyond the drugs used for the treatment of HIV, hepatitis C, and tuberculosis, especially for the newer drugs to make them more affordable.[3] In addition, the scope of pooled procurement and tendering has to be explored in detail through the employment of the square box concept.[3]

In an attempt to improve the usage of medical services and to minimize health expenditures, the Chinese government adopted a nation-wide essential medicine policy, which enabled the distribution of all the essential drugs at subsidized costs.[5] This resulted in reduced out-of-pocket expenditures and helped all the sections of society.[5] Furthermore, the provisions of the trade-related intellectual property can also be utilized for ensuring better access to medicines and the betterment of public health.[3] Furthermore, the national policymakers can take a call for setting the price of the essential drugs, but obviously, it will require support from the different stakeholders.[1],[2],[3] There is a big-time need to strengthen the different aspects of drug management, including procurement, storage, supply, and usage.[2]

In conclusion, essential medicines and diagnostics list are an effective approach to not only benefit the patients but also in the long run help nations to accomplish universal health coverage.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Saravdekar S, Shukla VK, Upadhya OP, Rai M, Giri K. Implementation of principles of pharmacoeconomics and pharmacovigilance to achieve optimal financial and therapeutic benefits through WHO - Essential medicine policy and adoption of NLEM-Based hospital formulary policy. J Family Med Prim Care 2019;8:1987-93.  Back to cited text no. 1
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
2.
World Health Organization. WHO Updates Global Guidance on Medicines and Diagnostic Tests to Address Health Challenges, Prioritize Highly Effective Therapeutics, and Improve Affordable Access. World Health Organization; 2019. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/09-07-2019-who-updates-global-guidance-on-medicines-and-diagnostic-tests-to-address-health-challenges-prioritize-highly-effective-therapeutics-and-improve-affordable-access. [Last accessed on 2020 Feb 13].   Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
World Health Organization. Executive Summary-The selection and Use of Essential Medicines Report of the 22nd WHO Expert Committee on the 2019. Geneva: WHO Press; 2019. p. 1-16.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Ahmad NS, Islahudin F. Affordability of essential medicine prices in Malaysia's private health sector. Patient Prefer Adherence 2018;12:1231-7.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Li Q, Chen F, Yang M, Lu L, Pan J, Li X, et al. The effect of China's national essential medicine policy on health expenses: Evidence from a national study. Inquiry 2018;55:46958018787057.  Back to cited text no. 5
    




 

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