Lancet: half of the world’s population lacks basic medical diagnostic testing

USA- According to a Lancet Diagnostic Committee analysis, nearly half of the world’s population does not have access to basic diagnoses for many common illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, HIV, and tuberculosis.

The Commission brought together 25 industry-leading experts from 16 countries who conducted the analysis to advance global access to diagnostics.

The Commission emphasizes the diagnostic importance of well-functioning health-care systems and urges policymakers to close diagnostic gaps, improve access, and expand diagnostic development beyond high-income countries.

According to the report’s authors, the early lessons of the Covid-19 pandemic were critical in ensuring timely and accurate diagnosis.

They stated that in high-income countries, the ability to use existing public health laboratories in addition to the private sector is critical for improving testing capacity.

Many low- and middle-income countries, however, are at a disadvantage because they lack access to this infrastructure and have not been able to reach full testing capacity.

The diagnostic gap is widest in primary care, with less than 20 percent of the population in low- and middle-income countries having access to the most basic diagnostic tests.

The authors advocate for immediate investment and training in order to improve access to primary care testing, particularly point-of-care testing.

Dr Kenneth Fleming, the Commission Chair at the University of Oxford, said: “In much of the world, patients are treated for diseases in the absence of access to key diagnostic tests and services. This is the equivalent of practicing medicine blindly. Not only is this potentially harmful to patients, but it is also a significant waste of scarce medical resources.”

At the global level, narrowing the diagnostic gap between the six conditions of diabetes, hypertension, HIV and tuberculosis, as well as hepatitis B and syphilis in pregnant women from 62 percent to 10 percent would reduce the number of premature deaths by 1.1 million per year.

The availability of trained personnel is critical to closing the diagnostic gap, and the Commission estimates a global shortage of up to 1 million diagnostic personnel, which must be addressed through training and education, otherwise no significant milestones would be achieved.

Without a skilled workforce that can maximize education and training, countries cannot provide access to diagnostics suitable for each level of care and achieve universal health insurance,” said the Commission’s Vice-Chair, Professor Michael Wilson.

Diagnostic tests range from blood, tissue, or urine tests to diagnostic imaging tests like x-rays, ultrasound, MRI, and CT scans. Inadequate access to such tests inevitably leads to less access to healthcare and delayed treatment.

The Commission also recommends that countries develop national diagnostic strategies as soon as possible, with the goal of providing the population with access to a set of essential diagnostics tailored to the region’s medical needs.

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