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July 5, 2024

WHO Partners with ASEAN to Boost Diagnostic Testing

WHO diagnistics testing in Asean
July 5, 2024

On June 6-7 in Bangkok, Thailand, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), and the World Health Organization (WHO) convened the first Regional Consultative Meeting on National Essential Diagnostic Lists (NEDLs) for ASEAN Member States (AMS). Delegates discussed the importance of diagnostic services in achieving universal health coverage (UHC) and the lack of accessibility to quality diagnostics for many countries. At the meeting, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Timor-Leste presented a gap analysis of their countries to compare the diagnostics availability against the WHO Model List of Essential In Vitro Diagnostics (EDL). This project, undertaken by ERIA and WHO, emphasized necessary policy implications to strengthen the diagnostic ecosystems. The WHO EDL informs prioritization in vitro diagnostics (IVDs) and its crucial availability to every country.
Diagnostics has been identified as an area in need of attention and is one of the three ASEAN’s areas of focus for improving regional healthcare, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, the diagnostic capacity and genomic surveillance varied significantly among the countries in the Southeast Asia region. Many investments have been made since the pandemic in equipment and supplies, governance and regulations, alongside information sharing at the local, national, and international level. To further the efforts in the regional diagnostic capacity, the collaboration at the Regional Consultative Meeting on NEDLs aims to implement the foundations established by the International Health Regulation (IHR), the Lancet Commission on diagnostics, and Seventy-sixth World Health Assembly (WHA76.5) resolution on strengthening diagnostic capacity, in addition to UHC. WHO has been supporting global diagnostics coverage through its EDL initiatives since 2018 and will continue doing so with ASEAN member states.

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