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Table 5 Recommendations

From: Harnessing genomics to improve health in the Eastern Mediterranean Region – an executive course in genomics policy

Recommendations for the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office

The workshop recommends that the Regional Director EMRO may be requested to address the governments at the highest level for actively considering the proposals of this workshop and for giving priority attention to genomics for health and health biotechnology. The political leadership may be provided effective advocacy material, with special reference to its link with poverty alleviation, public health objectives, and need for transfer (and internalization) of technology.

EMRO and Organization of the Islamic Conference Standing Committee for Science and Technology (COMSTECH), and possibly other groups should provide coordination and networking among national biotechnology bodies (see below) and coordinators to exchange information, expertise, training, and Regional cooperation in production and utilization of health biotechnology.

EMRO, in collaboration with member states and their national biotechnology bodies, should coordinate a national survey/inventory/situation analysis/needs assessment of health biotechnology innovation systems, including scientific and management capacity, government policies, legislation and regulations, intellectual property policies, private sector activity, and strengths/weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

EMRO, in collaboration with COMSTECH and member states, should develop a proposal/feasibility study for a Regional Genomics and Health Research Fund emphasizing both peer-reviewed research and capacity strengthening.

Recommendations for Member States

Each member state should create an effective National Commission on Genomics, Biotechnology and Health, if this function has not otherwise been established, including a coordinator who will serve as the focal point for this activity. The membership should be multisectoral and include youth, women, and civil society. The focus should include ethical issues.

Based on evidence from the national survey described above, governments of member states should develop and adopt, at the highest level, a national biotechnology strategy.

The National Commission on Biotechnology should develop programs of public awareness and engagement. Important "publics" here include media and religious leaders as well as the public at large. The discussion should include ethical issues.

The National Commission on Biotechnology should encourage academic institutions including schools and universities, to include health biotechnology topics within their curricula and create specialized programs and degrees where appropriate. There should be particular emphasis on ICT and bioinformatics.

The National Commission on Biotechnology, in collaboration with the relevant ministries, should develop a plan to integrate genetic and genomics products (including diagnostics, vaccines, therapies, and other genomic priorities), within the health system and public health programs. The emphasis should be on accessibility and equity to improve the health of the poor.

Recommendations for Individuals

There is a need for strong personal commitment to strengthen the initiative on genomics and biotechnology to improve health and well-being of people in the EMRO Region. Workshop participants, as well as other concerned individuals, should are therefore encouraged to actively engage in the implementation of these recommendations.