Health

WHO releases list of COVID-19 health technologies

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released a new compendium of innovative health technologies for COVID-19 and other priority diseases.

The list provides an assessment of the technologies, carried out by a group of international experts working with WHO technical teams. 

The assessment will rank on the basis of compliance with WHO specifications regarding performance, quality and safety; suitability in low-resource settings; affordability; ease of use; and regulatory approval status.  

Fifteen of the 24 technologies are currently commercially available in countries, while the rest are still at the prototype stage.

WHY IT MATTERS

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for health technologies that can help countries improve health outcomes despite lack of infrastructure, time and resources.

The main objective is to select and assess technologies that can have an immediate and future impact on COVID-19 preparedness and response, potentially improve health outcomes and quality of life, and offer a solution to an unmet medical need. 

The compendium includes items ranging from a colourised bleach additive, which allows the naked eye to identify non-sterilised surfaces and objects, to equipment such as a  portable respiratory monitoring system and ventilators that can be used where electricity is not available or unstable.

The suitability of each technology is communicated through a traffic light scoring system, indicating whether the product is recommended (for use without any known limitations); recommended with caution (limitations may have been identified related to maintenance and need for trained staff); or not recommended (inappropriate, unsafe or unaffordable).

THE LARGER CONTEXT

The UK has recently announced five new COVID-19 vaccine research projects, which will receive a total of over £4 million from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

ON THE RECORD

Dr Mariângela Simão, WHO assistant director general for access to health products, said: “Innovative technologies are accelerating access to healthcare everywhere, but we must ensure that they are readily available in all health facilities, fairly priced and quality-assured.

“WHO will continue to work with governments, funders and manufacturers to promote sustainable supplies of these tools during and beyond the Covid emergency.”

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