Essential drugs save lives and improve health - but only if they are available, affordable, safe and properly used. In 2000 significant progress was made in: strengthening national pharmaceutical programmes, with notable achievements in countries in each of the six WHO regions; developing effective drug regulation; maximizing the impact of WHO clinical guidelines; helping countries respond to the impact of trade on their pharmaceutical sector; promoting safe and effective use of traditional medicine; and monitoring WHO’s work in essential drugs and medicines policy.
WHO’s current priority in medicines is to expand access to essential drugs, particularly for low-income and disadvantaged populations. Considerable progress is being made on drug selection and drug pricing. In 2001, greater focus is being put on financing, supply systems and quality assurance - areas in which effective work with countries and partner-ships with other international organizations, aid agencies and nongovernmental organizations are crucial for achieving sound, sustainable results.
Dr Yasuhiro Suzuki, Executive Director
Health Technology and Pharmaceuticals
Dr Jonathan Quick, Director
Department of Essential Drugs and Medicines Policy
Figure 1: The WHO Medicines Strategy 2000-2003 - the pharmaceutical foundation for improved health outcomes and stronger health systems