IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


17th January, 2024 Health

National Essential Diagnostics List , Diagnostic tests , Healthcare facilities, Indian Council of Medical Research, World Health Organisation

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Picture Courtesy: www.hindustantimes.com

Context: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is undertaking a crucial task: revising the National Essential Diagnostics List (NEDL) for the first time since its inception in 2019.


  • The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has initiated the process of revising the National Essential Diagnostics List (NEDL), which serves as a compilation of the minimum diagnostic tests that should be available at various levels of healthcare facilities in the country.
  • This effort reflects the recognition of the evolving healthcare landscape and the need to adapt the list to the changing requirements of the healthcare system.


The NEDL was first introduced by ICMR in 2019 to ensure that essential diagnostic tests are available across different tiers of healthcare facilities, ranging from village-level health centres to primary health centres.

In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended the creation and implementation of such lists globally to enhance access to in-vitro diagnostics.

Purpose of NEDL

  • The NEDL is designed to outline the essential and fundamental diagnostic tests required at various levels of healthcare delivery.
  • It covers a range of facilities, including village-level healthcare centres, sub-health centres, health and wellness centres, and primary health centres.

Revision Process

  • ICMR has acknowledged that since the release of the initial list in 2019, a considerable amount of time has passed, and a revision is necessary.
  • Stakeholders, which may include healthcare professionals, researchers, and organizations, are invited to provide suggestions on adding or removing diagnostic tests from the current list.
  • The deadline for submitting suggestions is set for the end of February. 

Criteria for Inclusion or Removal

  • ICMR has outlined specific criteria for stakeholders to consider when proposing changes to the NEDL.
  • Factors to be considered include the essential nature of the test, disease burden, alignment with national health programs, adherence to Indian public health standards, and the required manpower and infrastructure for conducting the tests.
  • Essential diagnostic tests are defined as those meeting priority healthcare needs, selected based on disease prevalence, public health relevance, evidence of efficacy and accuracy, and comparative cost-effectiveness.

Public Health Focus

  • The inclusion of diagnostic tests in the NEDL is based on careful consideration of disease burden data across different states of India.
  • The focus is on public health needs, and any proposed additions should be aligned with the availability of equipment, infrastructure, and manpower as per the Indian Public Health Standards, 2022.

Documentation and Impact

  • The Council emphasizes that proposed additions should have documented use and necessity at the suggested level.
  • The diagnostic tests should address conditions with a high disease burden or significant public health relevance, where the introduction of a diagnostic test would have a clear impact on disease diagnosis and management.


  • The revision of the National Essential Diagnostics List by ICMR underscores the commitment to ensuring that diagnostic tests essential for public health are continually updated to meet the evolving healthcare needs of the population. The involvement of stakeholders in the revision process reflects a collaborative approach to enhancing the effectiveness of healthcare delivery in India.


Q. What are the key challenges faced by the healthcare system in India, and what potential strategies or reforms could be implemented to address these issues and improve overall healthcare accessibility and quality for the population?