Nigeria launches National Essential Diagnostics List in partnership with WHO

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The Federal Government of Nigeria has introduced the Nigeria National Essential Diagnostics List in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Global Fund to enhance diagnostic testing in healthcare.

The introduction of the Nigeria National Essential Diagnostics List is in line with the Federal Ministry of Health’s mandate to implement policies aimed at strengthening the national health system for effective, efficient, accessible and affordable delivery of health services.

The World Health Organization introduced the Essential Diagnostics List (EDL) which is a basket of recommended in vitro diagnostics that should be available at point-of-care and in laboratories in all countries based on their local context and needs.

The WHO Essential Diagnostic List provides evidence-based guidance to countries to create their own national lists of essential diagnostic tools as well as complements the List of Essential Medicines in availability and affordability of medicines along with the quality of patient management.

The first list of essential diagnostics was published in 2018 focused on HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and hepatitis and the list was expanded in 2019 to include more non-communicable and communicable diseases.

The diagnostics list also focuses on additional infectious diseases prevalent in low- and middle-income countries such as cholera and neglected diseases like leishmaniasis, schistosomiasis, dengue, and zika.

In addition, the overall goal of the EDL is to improve access to testing, diagnostic capacities amid the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak along with affordability, regulation and quality of the diagnostic test.

Nigeria’s Minister of Health Dr Osagie Ehanire pointed out that diagnostic testing in healthcare plays a major role in achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC), adding that policies and guidelines were developed to address needs and situations in healthcare delivery.

“There has been increased recognition of the importance of diagnostic testing in healthcare especially in achieving the goal of UHC hence there have been strategic efforts designed to develop evidence-based guidance on which policymakers can rationally improve access to diagnostic testing,” he revealed.

Moreover, Nigeria flagged off the dissemination of the National Essential Diagnostics List to boost access to qualitative and affordable diagnostic testing services in an effort to accelerate the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases.

Dr Osagie Ehanire added that the Nigeria National Essential Diagnostics List is intended to improve patients’ care, in-country diagnostic capacity, affordability of tests, regulation and quality of diagnostic tests along with capabilities of laboratories across the country.

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