The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) announced the addition of the genetic counselors to the list of assistant medical 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 Healthcare Professions Department at MoPH Dr. Saad Al Kaabi clarified that such a step came within the framework of the national health strategy which set preventive health on the top of its priorities and adopted a project that aims to offer the counseling concerning the genetic diseases for those who are about to marry in the Qatari community, pointing out that such a step will contribute to affording the relevant genetic counseling with respect to the entire pathological cases such as hereditary cancer syndromes, hereditary maternal and fetal disorders, metabolic disorders and other rare genetic diseases, and providing genetic counseling to them and their families.
For her part, Deputy Chair of the Medical Genetics Department at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and Consultant in Genetic Counseling in Oncology Dr. Reem Al Sulaiman emphasized that there is an imperative for the provision of ample and professional human cadres in this rare profession to further address the upsurge in the prevalence of genetic disorders and birth defects, and the increasing frequency of births of children suffering from some genetic disorders that affect physical, psychological and mental health, which constitutes a great burden on both the health care system in the State of Qatar and the resources of the community, pointing out that such matter creates a challenge that precipitates the imperative of combining the entire medical and societal concerted efforts to overcome this phenomenon based on science and proof by observing the culture of the community, customs and traditions.
In addition, Senior Consultant and Head of Clinical and Metabolic Genetics at HMC Dr. Tawfiq bin Omran indicated that the launch of the efforts dedicated to adding the genetic counseling designation marks the issuance of the Amiri Decision of 2009 which calls for those who are about to marry in the State of Qatar to subject to genetic tests and request the genetic counseling from the medical professionals to ensure protection against the diseases that could result in genetic disorders and epigenetic factors.
The State of Qatar is one of the few countries in the middle east to issue clearance for the genetic counselor profession in recognition of its importance since the genetic counseling specialty is considered one of the rare and unique medical professions, especially in the region, because the genetic counselor holds high scientific certificates and clinical training in the areas of Medical genetics and genetic counseling and operates to study the personal and family medical history, in addition to lending the patients and their families the essential counseling about the potential risks and genetic diseases. The profession of genetic counselors appeared about 50 years ago, and there are approximately 7,000 certified genetic counselors who practice their profession worldwide after obtaining higher degrees and specialized clinical training in this field.
In addition, Qatar University, in cooperation with genetics experts at HMC, established the National Master’s Program in Genetic Counseling in 2018, to train more medical practitioners to become genetic counselors.