Cuba's National Genetics Program
You may be interested to learn that in 2003, Cuba set up a national genetics program that is now staffed with over 1,600 individuals who work at more than 180 centers nationwide. This program is specifically aimed at researching and developing effective treatments for genetic disorders, pre-screening fetuses for genetic abnormalities, counseling parents on the subject of genetics and caring for those who have a genetic condition. For example, as part of the program, all women of Cuba are able to have their developing fetus tested for sickle-cell anemia, phenylketonuria, and neural tube defects, among many other genetic disorders. Additionally, pregnant women of age 37 or older are offered the opportunity to have their fetus tested for Down Syndrome and other chromosomal anomalies.
As another example, to facilitate the care of people who have genetic abnormalities, Cuba's genetics program has generated a large registry that is populated with the names and contact information of 360,000 such individuals. Specifically, the program helps manage the care of these individuals through collaboration with community social workers, who routinely monitor sick individuals' health status and living conditions.
Finally, to best advance genetic research for the purpose of discovering optimal treatment methods for genetic conditions, Cuba's genetics program has made it a top priority to train young scientific investigators. To this end, the program has implemented a strenuous Human Genetics course in all of Cuba's medical schools. Further, more than 50 research projects are now being conducted in laboratories throughout Cuba, which represents a great increase over the number that existed before the program was initiated. A national registry of over 43,000 families who have multiple members who suffer from the same genetic condition also has been created to facilitate the discovery of new mutations that are causative of disorders such as asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, alcoholism, mental retardation, and psychological conditions, including depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, for example.
Read here to learn more about this excellent program.