On Essentiality and the World Health Organization’s Model List of Essential Medicines

by Victoria A. Marks, Stephen R. Latham, Sandeep P. Kishore
Annals of Global Health, January–February 2017, Vol. 83, Issue 1

10 pp. 493 kB

In 1977, the World Health Organization (WHO) created its first Model List of Essential Medicines – a list designed to aid countries in determining which medicines to prioritize on their National Essential Medicines Lists . In classifying drugs as “essential,” the WHO has historically stressed drugs’ ability to meet priority health needs of populations and cost. The application of these criteria has, however, fluctuated dramatically over the years. In this paper the authors trace those fluctuations and argue the need for a more standardized and transparent set of procedures for choosing “essential” medicines.

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