The World Health Organization and the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) have signed a memorandum of understanding to formalize a strategic collaboration for universal access to diagnosis.
The WHO said that the move will strengthen diagnosis in resource-poor countries by closing major diagnostic gaps at country level and bolstering disease surveillance that will inform public health initiatives and enhance outbreak preparedness and response.
This collaboration will put in place the building blocks necessary to enable transformative change in a move toward a country-led diagnostics alliance.
Initial workstreams of the agreement will focus on demand-driven access to essential diagnostics and the development of national Essential Diagnostics Lists, alongside collection of data that assist the scale up of diagnostics to support low- and middle-income countries on their paths to universal health coverage.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, DG, WHO, said: “This collaboration is an inspiring development that will take us a long way towards ensuring access to diagnostics to all who need them."
He added that global health challenges such as the ongoing novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak demonstrates that without these essential elements of health systems, we cannot hope to promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable.
Dr Ghebreyesus said that he looks forward to working closely with FIND to determine what countries need and to forge a path to deliver these innovations so that no one is left behind.
The WHO has pointed out that diagnosis is a driver of patient, financial and health systems impact, and a critical enabler of universal health coverage, but it is also the weakest link in the care cascade.
“This is especially true in primary healthcare settings in low- and middle-income countries. A unique and unprecedented opportunity exists to expand the role and impact of diagnostics to fully realize their potential to address major health security threats and evolving disease burdens through technological and digital advances,” said the WHO.