Implementation of public health genomics in Pakistan

Moeen Riaz, Jane Tiller, Muhammad Ajmal, Maleeha Azam, Raheel Qamar, Paul Lacaze

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


There has been considerable recent progress in the implementation of public health genomics policy throughout the developed world. However, in the developing world, genetic services still remain limited, or unavailable to most. Here, we discuss challenges and opportunities related to the implementation of public health genomics in developing countries. We focus on Pakistan, a country with one of the world’s highest rates of inter-family marriages and prevalence of inherited genetic conditions. Pakistan still lacks a national newborn screening programme, clinical genetic testing services, or public health genomics framework. The medical infrastructure in Pakistan, characterized by limited publicly-funded health services and a significant burden of infectious disease, may contribute to de-prioritization of genetic health services. In addition, there are a number of societal, cultural and religious factors to consider. Recently a number of large research studies have been conducted in populations of Pakistani descent, mostly in collaboration with major US, UK and European institutions. Some of these have yielded high-impact scientific findings, but have yet to translate into public health outcomes in Pakistan. Before the benefits of genomics can be realized in developing countries, the first initial steps towards strategic prioritization, resourcing, and long-term goal setting are required. We propose some practical recommendations and possible first steps forward.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1485-1492
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

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