Essential medicines availability is still suboptimal in many countries: A scoping review

Mersiha Mahmić-Kaknjo, Antonia Jeličić-Kadić, Ana Utrobičić, Kit Chan, Lisa Bero, Ana Marušić

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: To identify uses of WHO Model list of essential medicines (EM) and summarize studies examining essential medicines (EM) and national EM lists (NEMLs).

STUDY DESIGN AND SETTING: In this scoping review, we searched PubMed, Scopus, WHO website and WHO Regional Databases for studies on NEMLs, reimbursement medicines lists, and WHO EML, with no date or language restrictions.

RESULTS: 3,144 retrieved documents were independently screened by two reviewers; 100 full-text documents were analyzed; 37 contained data suitable for quantitative and qualitative analysis on EMs availability (11 documents), medicines for specific diseases (13 documents), and comparison of WHO EML and NEMLs (13 documents). From the latter, 2 documents analyzed the relevance of evidence from Cochrane systematic reviews for medicines that were on NEMLs but not on the WHO EML. EMs availability is still suboptimal in low-income countries. Availability of children formulations and EMs for specific diseases such as chronic, cancer, pain and reproductive health is suboptimal even in middle-income countries.

CONCLUSION: WHO EML can be used as a basic set of medicines for different settings. More evidence is needed into how NEMLs can contribute to better availability of children formulations, pain and cancer medicines in developing countries.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
Early online date13 Feb 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Feb 2018


  • Journal Article
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