India initiates process to develop national essential diagnostics list

The National Essential Medication List (EML) in India has been helpful in capping prices of a variety of products, and has increased access to important medicines. For the next step, a smaller working group will be created by the government, to move forward with the EDL process, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year

India initiates process to develop national essential diagnostics list

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Delhi, along with several partners, including WHO India and McGill University today convened the first national consultation on Essential Diagnostics List (EDL).

To improve access to drugs, since 1977, the World Health Organization (WHO) has published a Model List of Essential Medicines. India has published a National EML since 1996, with the most recent iteration was released in 2015.

While the WHO is developing an EDL, there is a window of opportunity for India to take the initiative, develop a National EDL, and set an example to other countries. The same model could be used for diagnostics. Without diagnostics, good medicines can be wasted, misused or simply not used.

The National Consultation on EDL convened nearly 50 experts and stakeholders.

Speaking at the consultation, Dr Vinod Paul, NITI Aayog, encouraged the participants to think of EDL within the context of India’s push to offer comprehensive primary care. He also asked the group to be aspirational while creating a list for the country.

Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Deputy Director-General,, WHO, said India’s EDL work fits well with WHO’s program of work, and assured the participants that WHO will offer ICMR and the Indian Ministry all the support required to succeed with this initiative.

Meeting participants pointed out that the EDL process in India will need to improve upon the Free Diagnostics Service Initiative by the National Health Mission, and the Indian Public Health Standards which lays down criteria for services at various levels of the health system, and the National Health Policy which refers to essential diagnostics.

The proposed list would also need to factor in the issues of accuracy, affordability, cost-effectiveness, human resources, regulatory challenges and harmonisation with the available national guidelines.

Rajiv Nath, Forum Coordinator, Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AIMED), said, “At AIMED, we are delighted that ICMR, MOHFW and WHO have initiated this national consultation for an EDL, along the lines of the National List of Essential Medicines. This has been our longstanding recommendation. We suggest that the EDL should not be limited to IVDs, but also include diagnostic devices.”