PAHO/WHO, Public Health Ministry to finalise Essential Medicines List

─ getting rid of ineffective medication, adding new medication

DPI, Guyana, Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Health Professionals in the field of medicine and pharmacy are meeting over the next three days (March 12-14) at the Guyana Marriott to finalise the Essential Medicines List.

According to the Chief Medical Officer of the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Shamdeo Persaud, the last list was completed in 2015. At today’s opening ceremony for the meeting, the CMO remarked that the WHO standard is for the list to be reviewed every two years.

Since the last EML, Guyana has done continuous checks, ensuring that quality medicine and drugs reach patients through health facilities. The addition of more effective drugs may be made to the list while others may be removed over time.

“The last list was signed off in 2015 and we had some small revisions but the main revisions are going on this year. For our system, we would want to make [the general review] every two years but because medicine is changing quite rapidly, shorter periods will not give us enough time. Also, with the paucity of pharmacists in the field, to collect all the information that is needed to recompose that list, two years is adequate,” Dr. Persaud noted.

The EML is a record of the essential drugs and medication that satisfy primary health care needs. Essential medicines are selected with due regard to disease prevalence and public health relevance, evidence of clinical efficacy and safety, and comparative costs and cost-effectiveness.

A Model List, produced by WHO, has led to a global acceptance of the concept of essential medicines as a means of promoting health equity. Most countries have national lists. These national lists of essential medicines usually relate closely to national guidelines for clinical health care practice which are used for the training and supervision of health workers.

PAHO/WHO Representative to Guyana, Dr. William Adu-Krow classified essential medicine as critical to the effective functioning of any health system, and will remain among those things that are of national priority and the responsibility of any government.

“Essential medicines are intended to be available within the context of functioning health systems at all times, in adequate amounts, in appropriate dosage forms with assured quality and adequate information and at a price that the individual and the community can afford.”

Dr. Adu-Krow added that, “The implementation of the concept of essential medicines is intended to be flexible and adaptable to many different situations exactly which medicines are regarded as essential remains a national responsibility.”

Regional advisors and consultants of WHO are currently leading the discussion in the finalization of the Essential Medicine List. Regional Health Officers of the administrative regions, pharmacists, doctors and staff of the Material Management Unit and the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation are among those participating in the three-day meeting.

Delicia Haynes

Images: Keno George

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