Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Importance of Genetic Counselors in Asia

The Official Newsletter of the ASEAN Network for Drugs, 

by Mercy Laurino, MS, Licensed Genetic Counselor
University of the Philippines Manila

MS Genetic Counseling students with
Dr. Padilla and the author, Ms. Laurino
Photo: RGuerbo

Patients identified to have genetic conditions are understandably noted to be one of the most vulnerable patient populations. As such, access and availability of support from trained health care professionals such as genetic counselors is a must – not just for the benefit of the patient but for their respective families as well. The urgent need to have genetic counselors as crucial members of the health care team is also highlighted based on the increasing application of genomic knowledge as part of medical care.

Briefly, genetic counselors are health care providers with specialized training in medical genetics and psycho-social counseling. During genetic counseling consultation visits, they provide risk assessment and counseling based on the patient’s medical and family history, as well as utilizing any existing population-based empiric risk estimates and results from clinical genetic testing. Traditionally, genetic counselors work with a multidisciplinary team of providers such as clinical pediatric and adult geneticists, medical oncologist, neurologists, social workers, nutritionists, as well as others.