Estonian minister emphasizes importance of developing personal medicine

  • 2019-10-04
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Estonian Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik attended the European Health Forum Gastein, which is taking placing in Austria from Wednesday to Friday, and spoke about reducing inequality to improve the availability of healthcare services and the developments in personal medicine in Estonia.

According to the minister, personal medicine opens up completely new possibilities for people to prevent diseases. "We have been consistently investing in the development of personal medicine in Estonia so that we could use genetic information in everyday medicine in the tangible future. By combining health data with genetic data, we can provide people with more effective treatment and medication, but it also opens up entirely new opportunities for early detection and prevention of diseases," Kiik said.

"Altogether 200,000 people will have already joined the Estonian Genome Center by the end of 2019, which is 15 percent of the Estonian population. The collection of gene samples is the first step toward preventive personal medicine. Our objective is that genetic information become part of everyday medicine and, in practice, to be used by physicians and people themselves, alongside other health information," Kiik said.

To date, two clinical studies have been launched -- the objective is to develop a model for the timely detection of breast cancer based on personal genetic predisposition and a risk-based prevention plan for cardiovascular disease. In the future, this should enable doctors to diagnose these groups of disease earlier and advise patients on the prevention of health issues. In addition, a solution is being created that will enable doctors to obtain information on the interactions between a particular drug and the patient's genetic information when prescribing medication so as to determine which medicines are more suitable based on genetic information.

In 2018-2020, the state of Estonia is contributing 9.3 million euros for the collection of gene samples and the drawing up of gene maps on the basis of the collected samples. The development of services based on genetic information will also be financed in the extent of five million euros from European Union assets.

The European Health Forum Gastein is one of the most important health policy conference in Europe that brings together health ministers and leaders of health policy as well as healthcare experts and analysts from Europe and elsewhere.