What is the WHO Model List of Essential Medicine?
Essential Medicine, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO)*, are the Medicines that "satisfy the priority health care needs of the population". These are the medications to which people should have access at all times in sufficient amounts. The WHO Model Lists of Essential Medicine has been updated every two years since 1977.
A separate list for children up to 12 years of age, known as the WHO Model List of Essential Medicine for Children (EMLc), was created in 2007 and is in its 6th edition. It was created to make sure that the needs of children were systematically considered such as availability of proper formulations. Everything in the children's list is also included in the main EML list.
The list is divided two parts; core items and complementary items.
- The core items are deemed to be the most cost effective options for key health problems and are usable with little additional health care resources.
- The complementary items either require additional infrastructure such as specially trained health care providers or diagnostic equipment or have a lower cost-benefit ratio.
The World Health Organization Model Lists of Essential Medicine serves as a guide in various countries to increase access to medicines and guide choices about readily available drugs in their respective populations. Many countries have adopted the concept of essential Medicine and have developed lists of their own, using the EML as a guide.
Pile of assorted pills and capsules with a body temperature thermometer on top of them
The EML is updated and revised every two years by the WHO Expert Committee on the Selection and Use of Essential Medicine. As of 2016, more than 155 countries have created national lists of essential Medicine based on the World Health Organization's model list. This includes countries in both the developed and developing world.
"These medicines are chosen according to evidence of safety, efficacy and public health relevance. Essential medicines should be available in health systems everywhere, at all times," - Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation.
WHO Model List of Essential Medicines (EML) - Adults
WHO Model List of Essential Medicine - Children (EMLc)