WHO Medicines and Health Products - Annual Report 2018. Promoting access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medical products for all
(2019; 36 pages)

Abstract
Access to health products continues to be a major challenge in low- and middle-income countries and, due to rising prices, has become one for wealthy countries as well. While a central health and human right, access to health products is also a pillar of development – without preventive, diagnostic and treatment tools populations cannot thrive. For these reasons, WHO’s principal goal of achieving universal health coverage is dependent on access to vaccines, medicines and other medical technologies for all. Access alone however will not help us reach the goals WHO and the international community have set in the shorter and longer terms. We must ensure that access is equitable, and that medicines and other health products are affordable, quality-assured, safe and effective. WHO has therefore been working along two main lines – formulating policies that will allow for more people to receive the treatment they need and issuing guidance on the norms and standards that must be applied to ensure health products do what they are supposed to do. Interaction between these two broad streams is essential if we want to ensure that people everywhere have the opportunity to be diagnosed and treated so they can have a higher quality of life. To that end, WHO developed its first ever ‘Access Roadmap’ for vaccines, medicines and health products in 2018. The roadmap serves as a framework for countries to build the necessary blocks for sustainable access. Other firsts included the revision of the Global Benchmarking Tool, an instrument used to measure and improve countries’ regulatory agencies’ proficiency. The 2018 success story in regulatory strengthening was Tanzania’s achievement of a well-functioning regulatory system after a number of technical exchanges with WHO.
 
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