BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

Human Genetics Program and Global Health



Human Genetics Programs use genetic and genomic approaches to improve the understanding of the etiology of rare and complex inherited diseases, to characterize healthy variation in humans of different ancestry and to advance knowledge of human population evolution, demography and history. Research areas include:

  • Genomics of biomedical resources
  • Complex traits in diverse populations
  • Integrated genomics of inflammation and immunity

The first Human Genetics team at the World Health Organization was structurally located in the Division of Biomedical Sciences and was majorly hematological. Following advances and rapid progress in genetic technology and human genome research, WHO set up the Hereditary Diseases Programme (HDP) in the early 1980s to support international activities on the development of medical genetics services. Then, the international Human Genome Project which was introduced in the 1990s increased the scope of the Hereditary Disease Programme at WHO. Consequently, the Hereditary Disease Programme has gradually expanded in focus and includes prevention and control of major hereditary single-gene diseases (such as thalassemia, cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, and hemochromatosis); congenital malformations and common diseases with genetic predispositions.

The HDP was successfully sustained and developed over the years and was renamed the Human Genetics Programme (HGN) in 1995 as a part of the Division of Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health (NMH). The grouping of the Programme under NMH showed the evolution of genetic discoveries in major non-communicable diseases particularly cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and asthma. Presently, HGN mainly focuses on

  • Providing updated information on medical genetics to countries
  • Building capacity for the development of genetic services
  • Giving technical advice on national genetic programs to improve genetic health services
  • Promoting progress and transfer of experience and knowledge through a global network of collaborating centers, NGOs, regional and country offices and partners
  • Standardizing genetic technologies for disease control
  • Identifying and responding to the ethical, legal and social issues (ELSI) of human genetics
  • Developing genetic approaches for the control of major common diseases

Comments are closed.