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Individuals’ genetic information to be put to better use in healthcare

Sitra is supporting the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in the preparation of a national genome strategy...

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Sitra is supporting the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in the preparation of a national genome strategy.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has established a working group to draw up a national genome strategy. The goal is to develop a plan including measures that will enable the efficient use of human genome data in Finnish healthcare. Genome data refers to all of the hereditary genetic information that can be obtained about a person.

Advances in genome research methods are enabling the wider use of genome data in healthcare. The trend is towards personalised medicine, in which information on human genotypes guides decisions on care, for example through targeted screening and selecting the most effective medication for individuals. Analysis of hereditary risk factors will enable a shift towards more preventive and cost-effective healthcare, since genome data can increasingly be used for disease prevention.

A number of issues need to be resolved regarding the use of genome data in healthcare. For example, it is important to consider the assessment of the effectiveness of genetic tests, as well as quality assurance, data protection and the training of healthcare staff. In addition, plans need to be made on how to control costs.

National strategy to be formulated openly

During the autumn, the working group will arrange several workshops on themes related to the strategy. In the first workshop, the question of who owns genome data will be discussed. In other workshops, there will be a discussion on the effect of genome technology on healthcare; ethical questions; research, innovation and commercialisation; and healthcare information systems. Municipal residents will also have the opportunity to express their views on the strategy.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is working together with the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra on the formulation of the strategy. Sitra offers support for arranging working group meetings and workshops, organising consultations with leading experts, conducting small-scale studies required for the preparation of the strategy, and supporting the communications on strategy work.  

The aim is that the draft strategy will be circulated for comments at the beginning of the new year, before being submitted to the ministry at the end of March 2015.

The formulation of a national strategy for the effective use of genome data forms part of the Health Sector Growth Strategy for Research and Innovation Activities, released in May 2014.

For further information, please contact:

Jaakko Yrjö-Koskinen, Ministerial Counsellor, Health/Medical Affairs, MSAH, Tel. +358 50 348 4877

Tuula Tiihonen, Senior Lead, Sitra, Tel. +358 40 160 9070

Kristiina Aittomäki, Professor and Chief Medical Officer, Helsinki University and HUS, Tel. +358 50 427 1406

Read more (in Finnish):

Työryhmän kokoonpano ja tehtävät

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