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Minister: €23 million genetic database would help save on healthcare costs

A person's DNA at the Estonian Genome Center in Tartu.
A person's DNA at the Estonian Genome Center in Tartu. Source: (Sille Annuk/Postimees/Scanpix)

Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski (SDE) has said that compiling the genome information of the entire population of Estonia into one database would cost €23 million but hat linking that information to medical histories and its analysis would enable the healthcare system to save money.

Ossinovski said that developing a decision support system in personal medicine bringing together residents' genetic information and medical histories could be done in 10 years.

"Adding information about the whole population of Estonia to the genetic database would cost approximately €23 million, which is a negligible amount of money compared to the €1 billion we spend to finance medicine annually," Ossinovski said at a roundtable on the future of the Estonian healthcare system organized by the American Chamber of Commerce.

According to the health minister, if genetic information is combined with ten-year medical histories that the healthcare system already has and the necessary tools are created for doctors and the healthcare system to assess risks and offer better, more personalized service, this would be more cot-effective than the current healthcare system.

"The Genome Center has found that we have a high percentage of people suffering from hypertension just like every other society, but the drug that they use does not work on approximately ten percent of people as DNA analysis has revealed that their body produces a certain protein which makes this drug useless," Ossinovski offered as an example.

"Nationwide campaigns for testing for breast cancer that we currently have almost never find anything before it is too late," he also noted. "We are spending money and time to tet all women, although 90 percent of them have no risk of breast cancer and do not need testing. And in the people who do have a risk of breast cancer, it is detected too late."

Instead of this, the minister continued, it would be possible to determine with a test at birth already whether they run the risk of getting breast cancer when they are older. "And that information can be used in order for people to get better services and the system to be more cost-effective," Ossinovski added.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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