- There are more than 400 genetic disorders in the UAE.
- Mandatory pre-marital screening has been successful in drastically reducing the incidence of new Thalassemia cases.
- Prevention vital tool to reduce incidence of these diseases
- Genetic advances such as predictive genetic testing means genes are no longer a deciding factor of disease.
- Advances in technology to radically reduce new cases and help better manage existing ones.
United Arab Emirates, Dubai, July 2, 2018: Dubai will host the 7th International Genetic Disorders Conference which aims to bring together regional and world experts in the field of genetics to discuss the latest advances in detection and management of genetic diseases.
The conference, organized by the UAE Genetic Diseases Association, will take place on the on 9th and 10th November 2018 in Dubai and will be held under the Patronage of HH Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Cabinet Member and Minister of Tolerance, UAE and President of the UAE Genetic Diseases Association. Dubai Health Authority (DHA) is a strategic partner in the conference.
His Excellency Humaid Al Qutami, Director-General of the DHA said, “Prevention of genetic diseases, early detection and management are key focus areas that can drastically reduce the incidence of these diseases and better manage the quality of life of those living with the condition.”
Al Qutami said that the DHA will implement the human genome project as part of the Dubai 10X initiative. The project will use automated learning and artificial intelligence to issue reports that support research, forecast future disorders and epidemics, and plan preventive measures.
He added, “This conference presents an opportunity for the government and private sector to come together to discuss advanced treatment methods, ways to cooperate to build a hub for scientific learning and foster transfer of knowledge among scientists and researchers so that we can holistically address challenges we face in this field and further improve patient outcomes.”
Prevention is key in the fight against genetic diseases:
Al Qutami highlighted that empowering the community by raising awareness about prevention methods is a key pillar to reduce the incidence of genetic disorders.
Recent estimates indicate that there are more than 400 genetic disorders in the UAE. The most common are blood disorders such as thalassemia, sickle cell, anaemia, haemophilia and G6PD deficiency.
At least 8.5 per cent of UAE's population are thalassemia minor or carry the gene. The government’s mandatory pre-marital screening has been successful in drastically reducing the incidence of new cases.
Dr Maryam Mattar, Founder and Chairwoman of the Emirates Genetic Diseases Association said, “There is no doubt that awareness and early screening is fundamental in our fight against genetic disorders. The cost of genetic screening of thalassemia is Dh120, and the cost of treating a patient is Dh35,000 per annum. Similarly, the risk of neural tube defects, can also be prevented by a three month course of folic acid, which costs approximately Dh30, whereas treating a neural tube defects case costs Dh730,000.
Dr Mattar said, 'Prevention is key in reducing the impact of genetic disorders, socially and economically, and is a long-term sustainable solution; especially in the UAE where a high per cent of the population is under 30 years of age.'
Newer technologies play preventive role:
She added that it is important for the community to understand that having certain genes does not mean that the person will develop the disease. “Genetic testing and newer technologies provide an opportunity to understand our genes better and allow us to take action to help subside those genes by following a healthy lifestyle, sleep and exercise pattern. In some cases, it is important to undergo early medical intervention. However, inherited genetic mutation does not largely decide our destiny anymore. Advances in genetics has transformed preventive medicine for the better. Technology such as next-generation sequencing has uncovered the genes responsible for more than 50 per cent of all rare diseases,” said Dr Mattar.
According to the Global Genes Organization, there are approximately 7,000 different types of rare diseases and disorders, with more being discovered each day. Approximately 50 per cent of the people affected by rare diseases are children.
She added that the scientific program of the conference will focus on latest innovations, important discoveries in genomics and advancements in the knowledge of how genetics affect human health and disease.
The conference will welcome more than 40 international, regional and local genetic experts from leading institutions and research organizations to address the two-day scientific program.
UAE International Genetics Disorders Prevention Awards 2018
Another key highlight of the conference is the UAE International Genetics Disorders Prevention Awards 2018 that recognizes the contribution of leading personalities working in the field of awareness, genetic research and studies.
Community interaction program at the conference:
The two-day Community Education Program is a series of 30-minute sessions with prominent genetic experts and educators, who will meet, interact and educate the public. The topics of the sessions will cover basics of genetics, rare diseases, nutrition and ageing as well as health and nutrition.