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Essential Medicines 

Essential Medicines
Essential Medicines

Catherine Habashy

, Sarah L. Comolli

, and Justin N. Baker

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date: 29 March 2020

The concept of essential medicines (EM) was developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to promote equitable access to safe, effective, and low-cost medicines. Access to EM is considered part of the right to health and is critical to the provision of palliative care. Access to EM is often disrupted in the setting of humanitarian crises, leading to further physical and psychological suffering. The recently published WHO document, Integrating Palliative Care and Symptom Relief into the Response to Humanitarian Emergencies and Crises, provides guidance on the prioritization and utilization of EM as part of an essential package of care. This chapter draws on the recommendations of the WHO as well as those of other expert committees and multilateral organizations. It provides an overview of commonly used medicines in palliative care and is applicable to the delivery of palliative care in humanitarian crises. It also provides general dosage guidelines.

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