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Médicaments essentiels
The WHO essential medicines and health products programme works to increase access to essential, high-quality, safe, effective and affordable medical products

Essential medicines are those that satisfy the priority health care needs of a population.Essential medicines are those that satisfy the priority health care needs of a population. They are selected using criteria of efficacy, safety, cost of a course of therapy, compliance, multiple usage and storage, ease of administration and local availability. Medicines and health products often make up the largest portion of countries’ (and households’) health spending and their impact on health financing places them in a central position in all discussions, strategies and plans for universal health coverage. Access to quality-assured and affordable medicines is an essential component of universal health coverage.

Currently, the majority of people in low- and middle-income countries pay for medicines out-of-pocket, often leading to financial hardship. With the rise in non-communicable diseases – many of which are chronic conditions that require long-term treatment – the financial burden will become even greater, as will the need to accelerate progress towards universal health coverage.

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About essential medicines

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The objectives of WHO’s essential medicines and pharmaceutical policies programme are to save lives and improve health by ensuring the quality, efficacy, safety and rational use of medicines, including traditional medicines. It promotes equitable and sustainable access to essential medicines particularly for the poor and disadvantaged.

Ensuring that quality essential medicines and health products are available in sufficient quantities and affordable to the population requires functioning regulatory and procurement system, as well as legal provisions for universal health coverage, governance and efficient management of resources. WHO is working with countries to promote and strengthen these functions.

WHO supports countries to formulate evidence-based policies and ensure good practice and good governance throughout the supply chain from selecting the right products to using them correctly. It also develops tools to assess situations, monitor and measure progress on access to quality health products.

WHO Model Lists of Essential Medicines

WHO assessment instrument

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This series of reports present the results of transparency assessments carried out in Jordan, Lebanon and Syrian Arab Republic. It provides a comprehensive picture of the level of transparency and the potential vulnerability to corruption of six essential functions of the public pharmaceutical sector – registration, promotion, inspection, selection, procurement and distribution of medicines.

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Measuring transparency to improve good governance in the public pharmaceutical sector in Pakistan

Thumbnail of Measuring transparency to improve good governance in the public pharmaceutical sector in Jordan

Measuring transparency to improve good governance in the public pharmaceutical sector in Jordan [pdf 109Mb]

Thumbnail of Measuring transparency to improve good governance in the public pharmaceutical sector in Lebanon

Measuring transparency to improve good governance in the public pharmaceutical sector in Lebanon [pdf 1009kb]

Thumbnail of Measuring transparency to improve good governance in the public pharmaceutical sector in the Syrian Arab Republic

Measuring transparency to improve good governance in the public pharmaceutical sector in Syrian Arab Republic [pdf 144Mb]