World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists

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Seventy-second World Health Assembly (A72/1)
Agenda Item: 
11.7 Access to medicines and vaccines

The World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists (WFSA) works with its 135 national member societies and other organisations to achieve universal access to safe anaesthesia, directly contributing to SDG 3 and UHC by 2030.
The WFSA calls upon the World Health Assembly to highlight the anaesthetic medicines essential for safe anaesthesia and therefore safe surgery. A lack of access to safe, effective, quality and affordable medicines and vaccines continues to impede progress to UHC, and this includes anaesthesia medicines. Of particular note are ketamine and potent opioids. The availability of these essential medicines can – and has - been threatened by legislation that ignores their medical value. In low income countries, ketamine provides 70% of anaesthetics and is the “go to” anaesthetic for C-section and other life-saving surgeries. Opioids are essential medicines for the management of pain, and an indispensable element of UHC.
30% of the global burden of disease is due to surgical disease and trauma and 143 million more surgeries are needed annually to provide basic surgical care. It is essential that any plan to ensure the manufacture and supply of essential medicines includes essential anaesthetic medicines.
WFSA commends the work of the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependency (ECDD) in helping to ensure that the medical value of these medicines translates into sensible policy and legislation. This has been especially important in informing high level debates, including at the UN General Assembly. It must continue to ensure that decision makers take into account the global health arguments for essential medicines and the often negative effects of legislation on their manufacture, supply and availability. The recent decision of the ECDD to recommend that tramadol not be placed under international control is a case in point. The WFSA will continue to advise and advocate accordingly.