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Finland can become a model country for utilising genome information

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
11.6.2015 9.00
Press release 110/2015

Genome research has developed so that health can be promoted and diseases treated on a more individual level than before. In addition to having each Finn benefit from advances in science, Finland is fully capable of rising to become an internationally sought-after collaborative partner in genome research, and a forerunner in business activities in the field of genomics. To achieve these goals a proposal has been drafted for a genome strategy for Finland.

The aim of the national genome strategy is to support and guide health care in preparation of the efficient utilisation of genome information in the next few years. The aim is to promote people's health and well-being through genome information in such a way that the legal rights of the individual and fair treatment are secured.

"With the help of information related to genetic inheritance it is possible to make better individual choices, target the early diagnosis of disease, and select the treatment that works best", says Director Liisa-Maria Voipio-Pulkki of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

"If the proposals of the genome strategy are implemented, society could benefit from a halt to the rise in health care costs and from the better targeting of resources. The implementation of proposals would also ensure that Finland will be an internationally attractive research and business environment in the field of genomics", says Director Antti Kivelä at the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra.

The genome strategy helps implement policy lines and decisions of the Social Welfare and Health Care Sector Information Strategy 2020 directed by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, and the national Health Sector Growth Strategy for Research and Innovation Activities.

"The genome strategy is an important milestone in the implementation of the national health sector growth strategy for research and innovation activities. If implemented it would support the goals of the Government programme especially in the promotion of well-being and health, equality, strengthening skills and knowledge, and competitiveness. The implementation of the strategy requires action and cross-administrative collaboration", note Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Juha Rehula and Minister of Economic Affairs Olli Rehn.

The strategy comprises seven main goals with proposed measures

Enabling goals create the possibilities for the full utilisation of genome information in health care, in research and business activities, and in people's own lives.

  • Ethical principles and legislation exist for the use of genome information.
  • Genome research is closely linked with activities of health care.
  • Health care personnel are well prepared for the use of genome information.
  • Finland has data systems that allow for the effective use of genome information.

Utilisation goals produce the actual benefit to the individual, Finnish health care, and society from the use of genome information.

  • Genome information is extensively used in health care based on the needs of individuals and the population.
  • People are capable of utilising genome information in their own lives.
  • Finland has an internationally enticing research and business environment for genomics.

In addition, a working group of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is proposing the establishment of a national genome centre. Its task would be to take responsibility for the development of a national genome database and the implementation of numerous measures included in the genome strategy. Legislation should be passed for the establishment of the centre and its national funding should be secured.

Further information

Director Liisa-Maria Voipio-Pulkki, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 295 163 382, [email protected]
Senior Lead Tuula Tiihonen, Sitra, tel. +358 294 618 269, [email protected]

THL Biobank and the Finnish Institute of Molecular Medicine (FMM) of the University of Helsinki are publishing an extensive national genetic research project with the aim of clarifying the importance of genes in the emergence, prevention, and treatment of disease, as well as in the development of possible new pharmaceutical treatments. The project will be implemented as a collaboration of academic research institutes and pharmaceutical companies. This is already the third significant new opening in the field of health care this year.

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