Human Genomics in Global Health

About WHO's Human Genomics in Global Health initiative

WHO recognizes the role of human genomics research and related biotechnologies to achieve a number of public health goals, such as to reduce global health inequalities by providing developing countries with efficient, cost-effective and robust means of preventing, diagnosing and treating major diseases that burden their populations.

The initiative is housed in the Department of Service Delivery and Safety (SDS), within the Health Systems and Innovation (HIS) Cluster.

Human Genomics in Global Health - Areas of work

  • Host an international forum of exchange with the aim of fostering professional interactions and debates in the areas of human genomics, global health, and service delivery and safety.
  • Raise awareness of human genomics and its clinical applications among public health officials, particularly in Ministries of Health.
  • Facilitate access to training and educational tools in genomics to health care professionals, policy-makers and the public, in order to improve genetic service management and delivery.
  • Promote the development of cost-effective, safe and quality health services in low- and middle-income countries arising from the application of innovations in human genomics to address diseases related.
  • Address the ethical and regulatory issues arising from genomic research and its clinical applications, e.g. sharing of human genomic information.

WHO Collaborating Centres working on genomics

A WHO CC is defined as "… an institution designated by the Director-General to form part of an international collaborative network carrying out activities in support of the Organization’s programme at all levels." (WHA resolution EB69.R21 & EB105.R7).

The WHO CCs are a highly valued mechanism of cooperation in which selected institutions are recognized by WHO to assist the Organization with implementing its mandated work. This is accomplished by supporting the achievement of planned strategic objectives at the regional and global levels; enhancing the scientific validity of its global health work; and developing and strengthening institutional capacity in countries and regions.

United Nations agencies

    WHO collaborates with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on educational projects in human genomics.
    The International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) also collaborates with WHO.

Nongovernmental organizations working with WHO

The Thalassaemia International Federation (TIF) is an International non-governmental organization coordinating the various issues of thalassaemia associations globally.

  • The Human Variome Project (HVP)
    In January 2015, HVP became a nongovernmental organization (NGO) in official relations with WHO.
  • World Federation of Hemophilia
    The World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH) is a global organization dedicated to advancing treatment to all people with bleeding disorders, where the vast majority have little or no access to care.
  • Cystic Fibrosis Worldwide
    Cystic Fibrosis Worldwide (CFW) is dedicated to improving the quality of life and life expectancy of people living with cystic fibrosis (CF).
  • March of Dimes
    The mission of the March of Dimes is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.
  • International Clearinghouse for Birth Defects Surveillance and Research
    The International Clearinghouse for Birth Defects Surveillance and Research brings together birth defect programmes from around the world with the aim of conducting worldwide surveillance and research to prevent birth defects and to ameliorate their consequences.


Service Delivery and Safety (SDS)
Health Systems and Innovation (HIS)
World Health Organization
Avenue Appia 20
CH-1211 Geneva 27