There are many impediments to the progress of clinical and medical genetics in developing countries. Higher priorities concerning basic health care usually take precedence over genetic diseases and birth defects among medical professionals and public health officials. This is so in spite of the fact that the global prevalence of these conditions seems higher than in the developed world and that limited resources enhance the burden on individuals, families and populations. Furthermore, as a consequence of recent advances in medical genetics, demand for genetic services has increased, reinforcing the need for programs for the management and prevention of genetic diseases and birth defects, especially at primary health care level. An overview of these issues in Brazil is presented here, with information on the health system, the evolution of medical and clinical genetics in the country, and the situation of medical and clinical genetic services. We discuss proposals for implementing appropriate, ethically acceptable and equitable clinical genetic services for the Brazilian population.
Copyright (c) 2004 S. Karger AG, Basel.