Essential medicines and health products

About us

Affordable access to quality medical products is a critical pillar of a health system and crucial in reaching universal health coverage

A population’s full and affordable access to quality essential medical products and treatment depends on a number of factors: efficient regulation, provision and use of products; sound policies on selection, pricing and supply; a qualified health workforce; information systems; functioning health infrastructure; and good governance. Many low-and middle-income countries do not meet these criteria, largely due to resource constraints, and struggle to provide quality medical services to their populations. WHO assists countries to build their capacity, know-how, policies and information to increase availability of essential medical products, lower prices and improve mechanisms for financing and for coverage of essential medicines and technologies in social protection schemes; improve quality and safety of products and reduce substandard and counterfeit medicines; improve selection, prescribing, dispensing and use; support the implementation of policies, transparency and good governance in the medical products sectors.

Continuity and Change; Implementing the third WHO Medicines Strategy - 2008/2013

Medicines at WHO Headquarters

At WHO headquarters, Essential Medicines and Health Products activities are situated within the Cluster of Health Systems and Innovation (HIS)


Areas of work

Essential Medicines and Health Products in the WHO Regions

The EMP department is collaborating with WHO Regional and Country offices and consulting with major stakeholders towards the articulation of a strategic plan of action that will set out WHO’s vision for the coming years to promote increased access in all countries to essential medicines and other health products.