Medical devices

Appropriate health technologies are indispensable to the Ebola response

WHO /Marie-Agnès Heine

Due to the urgency of the Ebola outbreak and the WHO’s scale up of international response in west Africa, WHO is providing technical information on appropriate available essential medical devices which are indispensable for treatment centres, community-based units and other preventive activities, in affected and neighbouring countries.

2013 Compendium of innovative health technologies for low-resource settings

The 2013 Compendium of Innovative Health Technologies for Low-Resource Settings presents a snapshot of health technologies which might have the potential to improve health outcomes and the quality of life, or to offer a solution to an unmet medical/health technology need. This annual publication aims to encourage greater interaction among ministries of health, procurement officers, donors, technology developers, manufacturers, clinicians, academics and the general public to ensure greater investment in health technology and to move towards universal access to essential health technologies. In 2013, inclusion in the Compendium was restricted to commercialized products with regulatory approval.

Second WHO Global Forum on Medical Devices statistics

The Second Global Forum, organized by the medical devices unit of WHO, will provide the global medical devices community with a forum to share best practices, challenges and updates on progress in assessment, development, management and regulations since the First Global Forum in Bangkok in 2010, where stakeholders from 107 countries participated. The Forum will also address the development of lists of medical devices by clinical intervention and disseminate information about innovative, appropriate, and affordable devices for low resource settings.

United Nations Commission on Life-saving Commodities

Mothers and babies wait outsite for health workers to arrive at a health post, Nepal.
Ashok Bhurtyal/Courtesy of Photoshare

The United Nations Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children aims to increase access to life-saving medicines and health supplies for the world’s most vulnerable people by championing efforts to reduce barriers that block access to essential health commodities. The commission has made 10 recommendations to increase access to 13 essential, overlooked commodities in four categories (reproductive health, maternal health, newborn health, and child health). WHO is fully responsible for recommendations 4 and 5 and participates in others as needed. The Medical Devices unit is specifically looking at strengthening the quality and improving the regulatory efficiency of three specific types of medical devices: the female , neonatal resuscitation equipment (mask, valve and bag), and for injectable antibiotics.


Medical Devices - Definitions

  • August 2014


    ‘Medical device’ means any instrument, apparatus, implement, machine, appliance, implant, reagent for in vitro use, software, material or other similar or related article...

Medical devices are essential for safe and effective prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of illness and disease. The achievement of health-related development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals upon proper manufacturing, regulation, planning, assessment, acquisition, management and use of medical devices which are of good quality, safe and compatible with the settings in which they are used.

As outlined in the World Health Assembly resolution WHA60.29, the WHO Department of Essential Health Technologies (EHT), Diagnostics Imaging and Medical devices Team (DIM) aims to ensure improved access, quality and use of safe and appropriate medical devices in line with Primary .

This film highlights the importance of medical devices to and reviews the challenges and way forward for improving access to medical devices.