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Could This Be the Answer? WHO Launches Platform to Bridge the Gap in Medical Device Availability

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Geneva- 08 July 2024- World Health Organization (WHO) has introduced an online platform called MeDevIS (Medical Devices Information System), the first global open access clearing house for information on medical devices. It is designed to support governments, regulators and users in their decision-making on selection, procurement and use of medical devices for diagnostics, testing and treatment of diseases and health conditions.

The MeDevIS platform includes 2301 types of medical devices used for a broad-ranging health issues, including reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, noncommunicable diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes as well as infectious diseases such as COVID-19.

“The number of medical technologies used in health care is growing, as is their complexity, which can make it challenging for health care practitioners and patients to navigate,” said Dr Yukiko Nakatani, WHO Assistant Director-General for Access to Medicines and Health Products. “We aim to provide a one stop shop of international information, which can be invaluable for those making decisions on life-saving medical technologies, especially in resource-limited settings, and to improve access”.

There are over 10 000 different medical devices that are being used for protection, prevention, diagnostics, treatment or rehabilitation of health issues globally. These include multiple simple and complex medical technologies ranging from pulse oximeters, digital thermometers, single-use syringes and medical masks to various diagnostic laboratory tests and other medical equipment including electrocardiograms, endoscopes, all imaging radiology technologies, and technologies used for treatments such as hemodialysis units and defibrillators, implantable prothesis, cardiac stents and complex radiotherapy equipment.

However, currently there are multiple, separate sources of information produced by major international organizations, regulatory bodies, and donor agencies, making it difficult for users to discern and utilize the most reliable data. In MeDevIS, users can check devices they require, including type, level of health care systems to support the device (such as community or specialized hospitals), scope of the device, and infrastructure required, among other categories.

MeDevIS replaces paper-based literature search across multiple publications with non-standard device names which can add to the complexity. Along with providing a single platform, MedevIS also aims to help make the naming of the medical devices simpler.

“The MeDevIS platform can be useful for national policy-makers to develop or update their own national lists for procurement of health technologies and devices and can contribute to the progress towards universal health coverage,” said Dr Deus Mubangizi, WHO Director for Health Products Policy and Standards in the Access to Medicines and Health Products Division. “It can also help agencies in health insurance and reimbursement policies for patients.”

This is the first time WHO has developed such a global repository on medical devices, based on its experience with the WHO Priority Medical Devices List (MDL), which itself was based on the experience of creating the WHO Essential Medicines List (EML). Approaching its 50th
anniversary in 2025, EML is regarded as a pillar of public health in countries across the world, supporting health progress and touching billions of lives.

WHO will be continually improving the MeDevIS platform, engaging multiple stakeholders and partners and expanding it with additional technologies and devices used in various health areas, including in pandemic and emergency settings.

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