World Health Assembly Resolution on strengthening diagnostics capacity

29 May 2023

On the 26th of May member states at the 76th World Health Assembly voted to adopt a resolution on strengthening diagnostic capacity in countries.

The resolution recognizes that "diagnostic services are vital for the prevention, diagnosis, case management, monitoring and treatment of communicable, noncommunicable, neglected tropical and rare diseases, injuries and disabilities" and yet almost half the global population has little or no access to diagnostics (key finding from the Lancet Commission on Diagnostics). The WHA Resolution encourages member states to establish national diagnostics strategies as part of their national health plans, to invest in a skilled workforce at all levels of their health systems to support diagnostics, to commit to investing in research and product development and the promotion of local production capacity for diagnostics, particularly in developing countries, to establish routine data collection systems  to use for evidenced-based decision making, amongst other recommendations.

Read the WHO Resolution on strengthening diagnostic capacity.

To support the implementation of the Resolution a formal, country-led International Alliance for Diagnostics was recommended by the Lancet Commission on Diagnostics, as a coordinated mechanism to accelarate access to testing. Leaders from certain member states met with WHO, PAHO, Africa CDC, FIND and the Clinton Health Access Initiative to plan a path forward for such an alliance. Read the FIND statement here.

Read the report from Lancet Commission on diagnostics. Key messages are:

  1. 47% of the global population has little to no access to diagnostics.
  2. Diagnostics are central and fundamental to quality health care. This notion is under-recognised, leading to underfunding and inadequate resources at all levels.
  3. The level of primary health care is the diagnostic so-called last mile and particularly affects poor, rural, and marginalised communities globally; appropriate access is essential for equity and social justice.
  4. The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasised the crucial role of diagnostics in health care and that without access to diagnostics, delivery of universal health coverage, antimicrobial resistance mitigation, and pandemic preparedness cannot be achieved.
  5. Innovations within the past 15 years in many areas (eg, in financing, technology, and workforce) can reduce the diagnostic gap, improve access, and democratise diagnostics to empower patients.
  6. As an example of the potential impact, 1·1 million premature deaths in low-income and middle-income countries could be avoided annually by reducing the diagnostic gap for six priority conditions: diabetes, hypertension, HIV, and tuberculosis in the overall population, and hepatitis B virus infection and syphilis for pregnant women.
  7. The economic case for such investment is strong. The median benefit–cost exceeds one for five of the six priority conditions in middle-income countries, and exceeds one for four of the six priority conditions in low-income countries, with a range of 1·4:1 to 24:1.
Diagnostics Monitoring and Evaluation