Embedding genomics in public health and healthcare

6 December 2011

The Office of Public Health Genomics (OPHG) of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a new report outlining priorities for public health genomics over the next five years to 2017.
These recommendations were developed from stakeholder consultation and an expert meeting of the public health genomics community, along with views from the non-profit and for-profit sectors conducted by the US Genetic Alliance. Recommendations for priority actions in the US included:
  • Improve public education about genetics and related issues via community engagement
  • Continue to work on issues related to evidence development
  • Take a bottom-up approach to technology development, with clinical need as the driving force
  • Embed genetics into all aspects of healthcare, including national data and health IT standards
  • Expand the public health screening programs that utilise genetic information

Comment: A lack of ‘shared understanding and engagement’ on public health genomics among the public health community is noted to be a barrier to effective delivery, with many public health practitioners failing to appreciate the potential relevance of genomics to public health interventions and programmes – in contrast to the wider medical community who have grasped the possible utility of areas such as pharmacogenetics with more enthusiasm. The call to build understanding and collaborations within public health is therefore highly pertinent – and relevant in other countries such as the UK, too.

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