Diagnostic tests often get overlooked in terms of access – why are these technologies important for people’s health?
To quote Alain Mérieux, “without diagnostics, medicine is blind.” You cannot provide someone with appropriate care, without knowing what the cause of the illness is. Diagnostics are the starting point for providing good quality care.
In what ways do the access barriers to diagnostic tools differ from that of drugs and vaccines?
Diagnostics are more challenging both in terms of supply and sustainable implementation. Most tests involve the purchase and stock management of multiple different components, from instrumentation to various reagents and controls. Service and maintenance is crucial for functionality, and staff must be trained to both perform the test and interpret the result correctly for appropriate clinical intervention.
What are the greatest needs in the near future regarding access to diagnostics?
There is a need for tests to meet public health needs. Much of today’s innovation is either not reaching or not suitable for people in developing countries. Typically, when products are first launched, they are completely unaffordable. Also, new diagnostics often have not been tested in developing countries, so we need independent performance studies and quality assurance for tests.