Improving access to medications for children

Access to medications to treat juvenile rheumatic diseases is currently limited in many parts of the world and could be improved by updating the World Health Organization’s Essential Medicines Lists.

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Paediatric rheumatology is still an emerging field in many low-resource and middle-resource income countries (LRICs and MRICs) yet, worldwide, around 6-7 million children have rheumatic diseases, many of whom live in LRICs and MRICs. For those children who are seen by a paediatric rheumatologist in these countries, treatment is often hampered by a lack of access to suitable medications. This situation is compounded by the fact that the majority of LRICs and MRICs base their medication stocks on the Essential Medicines Lists produced by the World Health Organization (WHO), which contain out-dated recommendations for juvenile rheumatic diseases.

In an effort to raise awareness of these problems, leaders of the Paediatric Global Musculoskeletal Task Force have published a Comment article in Nature Reviews Rheumatology to highlight the shortcomings in the current WHO Essential Medicines List and Essential Medicines List for Children, and to suggest ways to update the lists to ensure that all children with rheumatic diseases have access to the medications they need.

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Joanna Clarke

Senior Editor, Nature Reviews Rheumatology

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