The Department of Public Health (MoPH) announced the addition of genetic counselors to the list of residency professions to reduce the health risks that could affect the community’s individuals due to genetic factors and planning for a better family future.
In his statement, the Director of the Department of Health Professions at MoPH, Dr. Saad Al Kaabi, realizing that such a move was made within the framework of the national health strategy, which gave top priority to preventive health care, and adopted a project aimed at offering the counseling regarding genetic diseases to those who are about to get married in the Qatari community , noting that such a step will help provide the appropriate genetic counseling in relation to all pathological cases such as hereditary cancer syndromes, hereditary maternal and fetal disorders , metabolic disorders and other rare genetic diseases, and provide them and their families with genetic counseling.
The Vice Chair of the Department of Medical Genetics at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and Advisor for Genetic Counseling in Oncology, Dr. Reem Al Sulaiman, for her part, stressed that it is imperative to provide sufficient and professional human cadres for this rare profession, as well as to address the increase in the prevalence of genetic disorders and birth defects, as well as the increasing frequency of births of children suffering from some genetic disorders that affecting physical, mental and spiritual health, which is a major drain on the health system of the state of Qatar and the resources of the community, noting that such matters pose a challenge that prompts the need to allocate all medical and societal concerted efforts pool to overcome this phenomenon based on science and evidence by observing the community’s culture, customs and traditions.
In addition, Dr. Tawfiq bin Omran, senior consultant and head of clinical and metabolic genetics at HMC, pointed out that the start of efforts to add the designation genetic counseling marks the issuance of the 2009 Amiri decision, which calls out those on the verge of doing so in the state Marry Qatar to undergo genetic testing and request genetic counseling from healthcare professionals to ensure protection against diseases that can lead to genetic disorders and epigenetic factors.
The state of Qatar is one of the few countries in the Middle East that has granted the license for the genetic counselor profession in recognition of its importance as the specialty of genetic counseling is considered to be one of the rare and unique medical professions, especially in the region because The Genetic Counselor has high scientific certificates and clinical training in the fields of Medical Genetics and Genetic Counseling and works to study personal and family medical history in addition to providing the essential counseling of the patients and their families about the potential risks and genetics diseases. The profession of genetic counselor originated about 50 years ago and there are approximately 7,000 certified genetic counselors worldwide who practice the profession after receiving advanced degrees and specialized clinical training in the field.
In addition, Qatar University established the National Master’s Program in Genetic Counseling in 2018 in collaboration with genetics experts from HMC to train more medical professionals to become genetic counselors.