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WHO's Essential Diagnostics List Could Help Countries Assess True Burden of Disease

“We first became aware of the EDL idea after reading an article in the New England Journal of Medicine that proposed [it]; we thought it would be a smart, cost-effective way to encourage access to diagnostic tools and encourage development of new technologies,” Bay Nishi, who took over as GHTC director in March, told Contagion® in an exclusive interview. “We see this as a complement to EML, and believe that it will work hand-in-hand with that [document]. There are a number of people being treated for malaria, for example, even though they may not have been properly diagnosed.” The EDL likely would help align diagnosis and treatment in at-risk areas in order streamline the provision of proper care, she added.
Now that the EDL project has been initiated, GHTC has directed its advocacy efforts toward getting representation of its membership on to WHO’s SAGE IVD, so that they can have input into its content. However, Bay Nishi is quick to emphasize that her organization has no say in the composition of the advisory group.
“This initial phase is focusing on HIV, TB, malaria, and hepatitis B and C,” she added. “I’ve heard some folks out there saying, ‘What about this [disease]?’ Our view is that WHO has to be able to walk before they can run and that this is a good starting point. Obviously, as an organization, we’re looking to encourage sustained investment in this effort and help it move to an expanded list of diseases over time.”
Brian P. Dunleavy is a medical writer and editor based in New York. His work has appeared in numerous healthcare-related publications. He is the former editor of Infectious Disease Special Edition. 
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