Will the Nigerian Government create accessibility to the WHO Essential Medicines List for all Nigerians at the point of need?

Adaku Efuribe
3 min readOct 6, 2021

WHO today published the new edition of its Model Lists of Essential Medicines and Essential Medicines for Children, which include new treatments for various cancers, insulin analogues and new oral medicines for diabetes, new medicines to assist people who want to stop smoking, and new antimicrobials to treat serious bacterial and fungal infections.

The listings aim to address global health priorities, identifying the medicines that provide the greatest benefits, and which should be available and affordable for all. However, high prices for both new, patented medicines and older medicines, like insulin, continue to keep some essential medicines out of reach for many patients.(WHO)

The meeting of the 23rd Expert Committee on the Selection and Use of Essential Medicines was held virtually from 21 June to 2 July. The Expert Committee considered 88 applications for medicines to be added to the 21st WHO Model List of Essential Medicines (EML) and the 7th WHO Model List of Essential Medicines for Children (EMLc). WHO technical departments were involved and consulted with regard to applications relating to their disease areas.

The updated Essential Medicines Lists include 20 new medicines for adults and 17 for children and specify new uses for 28 already-listed medicines. The changes recommended by the Expert Committee bring the number of medicines deemed essential to address key public health needs to 479 on the EML and 350 on the EMLc. While these numbers may seem high, they are only a small proportion of the total number of medicines available on the market.

Governments and institutions around the world continue to use the WHO Model Lists to guide the development of their own essential medicines lists, because they know that every medicine listed has been vetted for efficacy and safety and delivers value for money for the health outcomes they produce.

The Model Lists are updated every two years by an Expert Committee, made up of recognized specialists from academia, research and the medical and pharmaceutical professions. This year, the Committee underscored the urgent need to take action to promote equitable and affordable access to essential medicines through the list and complementary measures such as voluntary licensing mechanisms, pooled procurement, and price negotiation.

The new list, includes medicines for diabetes,cancer,infectious diseases and smoking cessation. More details about the list could be found here — https://www.who.int/news/item/01–10–2021-who-prioritizes-access-to-diabetes-and-cancer-treatments-in-new-essential-medicines-lists

In Nigeria, High prices and low availability still a major barrier for patients’ access to new and old medicines

It is no longer news that top Government officials jet out of the country for medical treatment ,leaving the ‘poor masses’ to their fate when they fall ill. There is ongoing strike action by medical/healthcare professionals in Nigeria and the Nigerian Government has not been able to put a stop to the strike or meet the demands of personnel on strike.

As the World Health Organisation releases the new essential medicines list, what is the plan of the Nigerian Government to ensure these essential medicines are accessible to the citizens and ordinary Nigerians resident in the country at the point of need.

Are we going to make these essential medicines affordable for all or for those who can afford private treatment only.

It is the duty of the Nigerian Government to ensure these medicines are provided in our public hospitals. I must say, we should hold our leaders accountable and ensure they do the right thing.

Adaku Efuribe- Forbes Ignite featured Pharmacist creating social impact and sustainability

Reference: World Health Organisation (WHO)



Adaku Efuribe

Forbes Ignite Featured- Creates Social Impact & Sustainability | Health Promotion Ambassador |UN SDGs Advocate