WHO Essential Medicines List as a priority setting method based on country needs to orient (rapid) Cochrane evidence syntheses

Workshop category: 

  • Priority setting
Date and Location


Thursday 24 October 2019 - 11:00 to 12:30


Contact persons and facilitators

Contact person:


Piechotta V1, Skoetz N2, Piggott T3, Bero L4
1 Cochrane Haematological Malignancies, Germany
2 University of Cologne, Faculty of Medicine and University Hospital Cologne, Department I of Internal Medicine, Center for Integrated Oncology Aachen Bonn Cologne Duesseldorf, Cochrane Cancer, Cologne, Germany
3 McMaster University, Canada
4 The University of Sydney, Australia
Target audience

Target audience: 

People interested in collaborating with WHO

Level of difficulty: 

Type of workshop

Type of workshop : 



Background: Archie Cochrane, founding father of evidence-based medicine, coined the statement, “All effective treatments must be free”, early on in his career. This statement is reflected in the vision of the World Health Organization (WHO) Model List of Essential Medicines (EML). Essential medicines aim to satisfy the priority health needs of a population while being safe and effective, and they are intended to be available and affordable to everyone. Following the quintessential elements of evidence-based medicine, comprising the best available evidence, clinical expertise, and relevance to patients, the EML aligns with Cochrane's vision of “a world of improved health where decisions about health and health care are informed by high-quality, relevant and up-to-date synthesized research evidence”.

Objectives: to illustrate the process and value of EML applications and to engage Cochrane review groups to get involved with EML working groups on a global and country level.

Description: the workshop will be an interactive information exchange in the form of short presentations, followed by discussions focusing on three main topics.
1) Priority setting in Cochrane Networks: two network senior editors will share their experience of establishing contact between their network and the EML secretariat and working groups. They will outline the joint prioritization process of relevant research topics and medicines for which there is a high need of evaluation or review, leading a discussion on how this fits in with other network priorities. Facilitators will also demonstrate how and when research groups can engage.
2) Rapid reviews: this discussion will focus on the value of rapid reviews as a method of target-oriented evidence synthesis, with room for methodological variations. An example will be used to illustrate the importance of a close cooperation between the review group and the EML secretariat. We will demonstrate how Cochrane rapid reviews can be adapted to the needs of their target audience while complying with Cochrane guidelines and how information can best be presented to the expert committee.
3) Knowledge translation: we will present the use of Cochrane Reviews integrated as evidence body into EML applications at global and country levels, sharing real-world examples on how the inclusion of medicines into the EML can positively affect drug availability and treatment costs, and highlighting the impact on universal health coverage. Further, the session will include a discussion on the importance of applications for the rejection of medicines from the list.