Half of the world’s population lacks access to basic diagnostics for many common diseases

Half of the world's population lacks access to basic diagnostics for many common diseases

Common diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, HIV and tuberculosis, or basic tests for pregnant women such as hepatitis B and syphilis cannot be diagnosed in about half (47%) of the world’s population, because they have limited or no access to key tests and services that are essential for it .

The analysis was led by The Lancet Commission on Diagnostics , an in-depth report that brings together 25 experts from 16 countries to transform global access to diagnostics.

Reviewing the best available data

Diagnostics include a collection of key tests and services that are essential to understanding a patient’s health . These may include blood, tissue, or urine samples collected and analyzed at the bedside or in a laboratory, or diagnostic images such as X-rays, ultrasound, MRI, CT scan, or nuclear medicine.

As part of the Commission, the authors reviewed the best available data on access to tests recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for prenatal care to provide a global estimate on access to basic diagnoses. These tests, which include syphilis tests, urine test strips, hemoglobin tests, blood glucose tests, and ultrasounds, represent essential diagnostic tests and must be available within a two-hour travel time of the patient.

Globally, reducing the diagnosis gap for just six conditions – diabetes, hypertension, HIV, and tuberculosis, plus hepatitis B and syphilis for pregnant women – would reduce the annual number of premature deaths in middle and income countries by 1.1 million .

Other Commission recommendations include improving affordability, improving regulatory frameworks to monitor the quality and safety of diagnostics, and democratizing diagnostics (increasing the availability of tests at the point of care, self-sampling, and self-testing).