WHO publishes its first Essential Diagnostics List

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has published its first Essential Diagnostics List, a catalogue of tests needed to diagnose most common diseases along with number of global priority diseases. It aims to address people’s inability to access diagnostic services, which results in them from receiving correct treatment.

Essential Diagnostics List

The essential diagnostics list concentrates on in-vitro tests like tests of blood and urine. It contain overall 113 products which comprises 58 tests for detection and diagnosis of a wide range of common conditions. Remaining 55 tests for detection, diagnosis and monitoring of ‘priority’ diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, HIV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis and human papillomavirus.
For each category of test, list specifies type of test and intended use, format and if appropriate for primary health care or for health facilities with laboratories. It also provides links to WHO guidelines or publications and to pre-qualified products. Some of tests enlisted in it are particularly suitable for primary health care (PHCs) facilities, where laboratory services are often poorly resourced and sometimes non-existent.


WHO will update list on regular basis and will also issue call for applications to add categories to next edition. It is expected to expand significantly over next few years to incorporate other important areas including emerging pathogens, neglected tropical diseases, antimicrobial resistance and additional non-communicable diseases.


Essential Diagnostics List will provide uniform tool that can be useful to all countries, not only to test and treat health complications better but also to use health funds more efficiently by concentrating on the truly essential tests. It also provides an essential package that can form the basis for screening and management of patients. It similar to WHO’s essential medicines list, which has been in use for four decades and serve as reference for countries to update or develop their own list of essential diagnostics.

World Health Organization (WHO)

WHO is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, it succeeded the Health Organization, which was an agency of the League of Nations. It is a member of the United Nations Development Group and its headquarters is located at Geneva. WHO flag features the Rod of Asclepius as a symbol for healing.




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