Essential Medicines are those that satisfy the priority health care needs of the population. They are selected with due regard to public health relevance, evidence on efficacy and safety, and comparative cost-effectiveness. They are intended to be available within the context of functioning health systems at all times in adequate amounts, in the appropriate dosage forms, with assured quality and adequate information, and at a price the individual and the community can afford.

The World Health Organization Model Lists of Essential Medicines was first published in 1977. Every two years, the Expert Committee meets to revise and update the lists. Governments and institutions around the world are using the WHO list to guide the development of their own essential medicines lists. Over the years, selection criteria for drugs have evolved towards an evidence-based approach.

  • WHO – 10 facts on essential medicines (link)
  • WHO – Model lists of essential medicines (link)

Universal health coverage (UHC) is a broad concept that has been implemented in different ways. Its goal is to ensure that all people obtain the health services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them.

  • Lancet – Universal health coverage: not why, what, or when—but how? (link)
  • WHO – Fact sheet on universal health coverage (link)
  • World Bank – Infographic : Toward Universal Health Coverage by 2030 (link)




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