If the genome strategy will be applied, how will it become visible in people's everyday lives?

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 24.6.2015 14.06
News item

Finland can become a model country for utilising genome information. Director Liisa-Maria Voipio-Pulkki, from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tells about the Finnish genome strategy in a video interview.

Text version of the interview:

What does genome strategy mean?

"The strategy is a proposal drafted by the leading experts in health care and health care legislation in Finland. Their aim is to give information, both to political decision-makers and the general public, on the significant change that will happen with the use of genome information. We need to prepare for the change in health care and educational services and in information services to the general public."

Why was this strategy drafted?

"Modern medicine has developed so fast during the last few years that information on the human genome is available at the level of genes, gene combinations or the whole genome. In future, such information can be acquired as a matter of routine and at an affordable price. Such surveys are already on sale to the public. We want to make that new information available to health care personnel and thus to the whole population."

What will be achieved by the measures proposed?

"We have planned that genome information could be everyday information on human health, health risks and characteristics of illnesses by the year 2020, in the same way as any other data on risks and diagnostics currently is. This requires legislative measures and measures on our information systems and databases, as well as changes in practical activities."

What is the most important matter of the strategy?

"The most important matter probably is that we have been able to create this shared vision and published it. Regarding the content of the strategy, I find it most important that a shared ethical and legislative basis will be established for the use of the genome strategy. This is also connected with issues regarding information systems and data security."

If the genome strategy will be applied, how will it become visible in people's everyday lives?

"We hope, of course, that everyone will become more aware of this issue and we all are able to take a critical stand on our right to self-determination concerning information. Genome information will be just normal background information on people's well-being, health and illnesses. It will be available to health care personnel and used in their everyday health care work."

Interview: Taina Rihtniemi

Video: Kimmo Vainikainen