STAT: Diagnostics are essential for universal health coverage to succeed

21 May, 2019

Extracts below and a comment from me. Full text on STAT (a news service about life sciences and medicines): https://www.statnews.com/2019/05/20/diagnostics-universal-health-coverag...

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Diagnostics are essential for universal health coverage to succeed

By MADHUKAR PAI, CATHARINA BOEHME, and ILONA KICKBUSCH MAY 20, 2019

'As countries make progress toward universal health coverage and design and deliver their essential health benefits packages, diagnostics must be included as a key component of such packages. Why? Because most diseases or conditions cannot be correctly managed without a clear diagnosis. High-quality health care begins with seeking care, followed by a diagnosis that leads to appropriate therapy. Individual disease and outbreaks can’t be stopped if the cause is not identified early.

'Yet hardly any universal health coverage report or statement explicitly acknowledges the need for including essential diagnostics within the framework of universal health coverage. That stands in sharp contrast to the explicit inclusion of access to essential medicines and vaccines in most universal health coverage statements and declarations...'

'It is time to acknowledge that diagnostics are as important as medicines and vaccines in delivering UHC. How can we cure illnesses we cannot detect?'

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Comment (NPW): A diagnosis is made most commonly through basic history and examination, and diagnostic laboratory tests (or imaging such as Xrays) are used in only a minority of consultations. While I agree with the authors that better access to reliable diagnostic tests is critical, we should not forget that clinical skills and knowledge are paramount in reaching a diagnosis.

Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org