- The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored how prioritizing and investing in diagnostics facilitates prompt detection and effective management of disease outbreaks.
- A WHO resolution reflects a fresh global call to action to strengthen diagnostics and increase patient access for better health outcomes.
- Correcting the patient engagement deficit in Asia Pacific is critical to realizing the benefits of all healthcare resources.
Each May, representatives from the 194 member states of the World Health Organization (WHO) gather during the World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva to endorse resolutions and set big-picture goals for the organization, its leaders and its stakeholders.
This year, Eswatini – one of the smallest countries in Africa – tabled a resolution that included calls for member states to strengthen diagnostics capacity through the establishment of a national diagnostics strategy, developing a national essential diagnostics list and investing in developing a skilled workforce at all levels of the health system.
Diagnostics influence up to 70% of clinical decisions yet account for less than 1% of healthcare expenditures. With 47% of the global population having little to no access to diagnostics, this resolution is an urgent call to action.
Access to timely and accurate diagnosis is an urgent priority for countries to achieve Global Public Health Security. Countries investing in diagnostics capabilities were better able to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and as reported by the Lancet, real change was seen at a pace that would previously have seemed impossible.
However, for those who had to build infrastructure and redirect resources, the problems in building diagnostic capabilities were compounded by supply chain hurdles and slow regulatory approvals, a sobering reality for low-and-middle-income countries, including Asia Pacific. Moreover, many of these countries still needed to increase funding for diagnostic technologies to match general inflation, representing a real terms reduction in resource allocation over recent decades.