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Diagnostic Testing Essential For Universal Health Coverage – FG

… Flags Off Nigerian Essential Diagnostic List (NEDL)

Dr. Osagie Ehanire, the Minister of Health, said diagnostic testing has become increasingly important in healthcare in recent years, particularly in realizing the aim of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

While noting that there have been few strategic efforts to develop the evidence base on which policymakers can rationally increase and improve diagnostic testing access until recently.

To this purpose, WHO has recognized the necessity to develop an Essential Diagnostics List (EDL) following nearly four decades of existence of the Essential Medicines List (EML) (EDL).

He made this known at the National Flag off and Dissemination of the Nigerian Essential Diagnostic List (NEDL), adding, Nigeria is committed to the attainment of globally agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

The Minister who was represented at the occasion by the Head of Dentistry Division of the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr B.O Alonge said this commitment is reflected in the 2016 revised National Health Policy whose theme is “Promoting the Health of Nigerians to Accelerate Socio-economic Development”.

According to him: “I am pleased to inform you that Nigeria is the first country to develop her Essential Diagnostics List in Africa and second in the world following India. This shows greatly the interest of this government in the improvement of health indices for the country.

“This 1st Edition of the National Essential Diagnostics List (NEDL) is a guidance document needed to prioritize critical health in-vitro diagnostics (IVDs) based on wide availability and affordability through the national health system. It will support the selection, procurement, supply, donations or provision of IVDs.

“After about 4 decades following the development of Essential Medicines List (EML), the World Health Organization developed the Essential Diagnostics List (EDL) in order to provide evidence-based guidance to countries to create their national lists of essential diagnostic tests and tools, anticipating that the EDL will complement the List of Essential Medicines and enhance its impact.

“Similarly, the EDL is anticipated to improve patient care, in-country diagnostic capacity, affordability of tests, regulation and quality of diagnostic tests, and capabilities of national laboratories.

“The WHO EDL is purposed to provide evidence-based guidance to countries to create their national lists of essential diagnostic tests and tools, anticipating that the EDL will complement the List of Essential Medicines and enhance its impact.

“National essential medicines lists have been successful in facilitating access to treatment and promoting affordable prices, particularly in low resource countries, by prioritizing the most important medicines all countries need to make available to their populations.

“Diagnostics List as this occasion marks another giant stride towards achieving the core mandate of the Federal Ministry of Health that is “to develop and implement policies to strengthen the national health system for effective, efficient, accessible and affordable delivery of health services in partnership with relevant stakeholders”.

Ehanire noted that to ensure nationwide implementation of this important document, we have also ensured the approval of this guidance document at the Emergency meeting of the National Council on Health. By this, all states in the Federation are encouraged to implement the use the document.

As you are aware, policies and guidelines are developed to address needs and situations.

The NEDL enlists 145 diagnostic test categories comprising 65 general IVDs to aid the diagnosis of a range of disease conditions; 73 diseasespecific IVDs in clinical settings covering primary, secondary, tertiary and national reference laboratories and 7 [VDs for screening of blood donations. It also includes 12 general IVDs and 15 disease specific [VDs for use in community and health settings without laboratories.

He further stated that, the Nigerian Laboratory sub-sector has experienced some gains in recent times, such as the improvement of in-country capacity for molecular testing leveraging on COVID-19 response and interventions, optimization of Gene Xpert platforms for molecular testing and improved finance for health especially within the laboratory sub-sector.

“As a government, we will continue to provide enabling environment to ensure successful implementation of the policies and guidance documents.

“We also encourage counterparts from the sub-National levels (State and local governments) and even the private sector to key-in and leverage the National Essential Diagnostics List as it holds great benefits as earlier highlighted.

“I must to acknowledge the commitment and input from numerous Partners especially WHO and the Global Fund towards the development of this document and also thank the leadership of the National Laboratory Technical Working Group for providing guidance.

“It is my sincere hope that the implementation of the EDL will contribute to achieving the goal of the government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, to make quality healthcare accessible to Nigerians”.

In his goodwill message, the WHO Country Representative, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo said
The Nigerian Essential Diagnostic List (NEDL) will benefit the whole of healthcare in the country. The use of quality diagnostics as you are all aware is the first step in the strategies for treatment, control and prevention of disease outbreaks, of which the Covid-19 pandemic has brought into focus this important role.

Represented by Public Health Emergency Advisory of WHO, Dr. Alexander Chinbaru sated that , following increased recognitions of the importance of diagnostic testing in healthcare particularly as it plays major role towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC), World Health Organization (WHO) developed an Essential Diagnostics List (EDL) to address the lack of access to tests and testing services in many countries.

According to him,”The WHO Essential Diagnostic List which was first published in 2018, is a list of recommended invitro diagnostics that should be available at point of care and is intended as a guidance document for countries to create their own national list based on their local context and needs.

“The overall goal of the EDL is to improve access to testing, diagnostic capacities during outbreak, affordability of test, regulation and quality of diagnostic test. The National Essential Diagnostic List is anticipated to complement and enhance the impact of the Essential Medicines List (EML) which has recorded great
improvement in availability and affordability of medicines and quality of patient management.

“I therefore, congratulate the Honorable Minister of Health on this important achievement as Nigeria joined list of the first countries including India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, that have adopted the WHO concept of Essential Diagnostic List and has produced one that is aligned to the disease prevalence in their country.

“I encourage all the States and health facilities to use the National Essential Diagnostic List as this will not only improve the health system capacity to reach accurate diagnosis but will save heath resources wasted on inappropriate treatment and long stay in the hospital”.

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