Medical devices

Priority medical devices


In 2007 the World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with the Government of the Netherlands, launched the Priority Medical Devices (PMD) project to determine whether medical devices currently on the market were meeting the needs of health care providers and end-users throughout the world and if not, to propose research to identify—and action to remedy—inadequacies or shortcomings. The aim of the project was to bring medical devices to the attention of policy makers and to help guide both industry and government on public health spending.

The main objective of the Priority Medical Devices project was to identify gaps in the availability of preventive, diagnostic, therapeutic and assistive medical devices on the market. Mapping of gaps in the supply of medical devices constitutes a priority for governments and key stakeholders because of the need to treat disease or disability. In addition, the project assessed potential barriers to innovation as well as generated a research agenda and action plan.

The methodology used, took into account of the following key items:

  • present burden of disease and disability and the associated clinical guidelines;
  • potential future burden of disease and of disability, given the changing demography in many countries;
  • cross cutting issues like training design, context, regulatory framework; and
  • drivers and barriers to innovation and research.
  • A generic methodology to identify "gaps" in the availability of preventive, diagnostic, therapeutic and assistive medical devices. These gaps include medical devices that are or may be:
    • currently not available;
    • if available, not necessarily used worldwide;
    • if used, not to the extent that is desirable; or
    • that may be inappropriate for the context in which they are used.
  • Identification of the main barriers to innovation and diffusion of medical devices and where possible, suggestion of solutions to either reduce or overcome these.
  • A proposed research agenda
  • The promotion of medical devices as important tools for improving health care.

This first phase of the PMD project points to the next steps in a continuous process of developing tools for assessing the availability, accessibility and appropriateness of medical devices.

Background papers