Relationship Between Medical Genetics and Public Health: Changing the Paradigm of Disease Prevention and the Definition of a Genetic Disease

Relationship Between Medical Genetics and Public Health: Changing the Paradigm of Disease Prevention and the Definition of a Genetic Disease

Relationship Between Medical Genetics and Public Health: Changing the Paradigm of Disease Prevention and the Definition of a Genetic Disease

Abstract

Over the past decade, medical genetics has emerged
as an important and powerful medical specialty with
increasing appreciation of its role and function among
the medical specialties. This emergence is related to a
great extent to the progress in the Human Genome
Project which promises wide-ranging applications in
the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of human diseases [Hoffman, 1994]. Nevertheless, discussions about
the role of genetics in preventive medicine and public
health rightfully lead to ethical, legal and social concerns about general applicability of genetic testing in
the population [Garver, 1994; Holtzman, 1989]. The
interpretation of the word prevention in the context of
genetic diseases leads to the unavoidable discussions of
genetic engineering, prenatal diagnosis and selective
termination, as well as broader concerns about discrimination in health care coverage, employment and
in society.

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