Estonian minister emphasizes importance of developing personal medicine

Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik
Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

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 developments in personal medicine in Estonia.

According to the minister, personal medicine opens up completely new possibilities 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.

"No fewer than 200,000 people will have joined the Estonian Genome Project 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 for genetic information to become part of everyday medicine and 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, Estonia is contributing €9.3 million for the collection of gene samples and the drawing up of gene maps on the basis of the collected samples. Development of services based on genetic information will also be financed in the volume of €5 million from European Union assets.

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

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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