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Abu Dhabi couples make informed health decisions with premarital genetic screening

Genetic tests for 570 genes covering 840+ disorders offered at 22 healthcare facilities

The Department of Health in Abu Dhabi reveals that some 353 have undergone premarital genetic tests.
Image Credit: DOH

Abu Dhabi: As many as 353 couples made informed health decisions before marriage by undergoing premarital genetic tests in Abu Dhabi.

The Department of Health — Abu Dhabi (DoH), the regulator of the healthcare sector in the Emirate and in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre (ADPHC), have supported these couples through the expanded genetic screening within the premarital screening services provided across the primary healthcare centres in Abu Dhabi, the authorities said on Tuesday.

According to the recent data, the screening had a positive impact with 353 couples having enrolled. An impressive 85 per cent achieved genetic compatibility and only 15 per cent required additional family planning interventions based on genetic results. The screening programme translates both DoH and ADPHC’s efforts in elevating the healthcare journey of couples early on throughout the different phases including diagnostic, genetic counselling and introducing reproductive medicine solutions, the authorities said.

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How it helps

In 2022, DoH and ADPHC incorporated an optional genetic screening in the premarital screening programme as part proactive preventive measures to safeguard the health and well-being of community members. By detecting and preventing genetic conditions, the genetic screening contributes to hindering the transmission of a certain group of hereditary diseases and ultimately leading to a healthier Abu Dhabi community. Offered in over 22 healthcare facilities across Abu Dhabi, the comprehensive genetic screening tests for autosomal recessive 570 genes contributing to 840 plus genetic disorders.


Proactive approach

Dr Asma Al Mannaei, executive director of the Research and Innovation Centre at DoH said: “Recognising the importance of genomics in making informed decisions, Abu Dhabi’s proactive approach places it at the forefront of leading healthcare systems around the world. Integrating genetic tests into premarital screening in Abu Dhabi surpasses the global trend of pushing genomics into mainstream healthcare, paving the way for more precise and effective medicine. The Department of Health — Abu Dhabi (DoH) remains committed to empowering community members with data and insights that can support them in making informed decisions to manage their health and address potential risks early on.”

Identifying high-risks

Dr Omniyat Al Hajeri, executive director of Community Health Sector at ADPHC said: “This project underscores the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre’s dedication, in partnership with its strategic stakeholders, to establish preventive genetic screening approach and support in identifying high-risk couples by introducing the genetic testing, and therefore facilitating discussion on assisted intervention options and follow up the referral to the IVF centres as needed in the future. Our objective through this initiative is to proactively prevent the transmission of certain group of genetic conditions to the next generation, while providing the support needed to empower individuals in regard to future decision.”

DoH said it continues to leverage the Emirate’s advanced healthcare infrastructure and innovative ecosystem to utilise the DNA sequencing technology to foresee medical conditions among individuals and encourage the translation of advanced genetic data provided through the Emirati Genome Programme into clinical practice.

While genetic compatibility plays a significant role in ensuring the long-term health and well-being of future generations, DoH encourages couples to undergo the premarital genetic screening and include it in their marriage plans to support them in early detection, risk mitigation and family planning.