Human Genetics programme

Resources for patients and the public

Patient and public

Genomic interventions have the potential to make a significant impact on health care in the future. WHO underscores the importance of public involvement in the improved application of genetic technologies for the prevention and management of disease. It is vital that the public be well prepared for the many new innovations and challenges that are emerging in the field of genomics.

There is a need for open and easy public access to health resources, including the knowledge of the types of human diseases and methods to prevent and manage them. Misinformation or a lack of information can mar public perception of both the fundamental concepts and the implications of genomics. An informed public can influence policy makers in the development of guidelines and frameworks that address the ethical, social and legal issues raised by expanding genomic technologies. WHO encourages its Member States to raise public awareness of genomics, incorporate public dialogue into legislative action and eventually foster a responsive and effective health policy framework.

This section includes a basic introduction to genetic diseases, information on existing patient support groups, genetic counselling facilities, patients' rights along with other general online resources on genomics.

  • Genes and human disease
    Provides an overview of the mechanics of genes and chromosomal abnormalities that lead to genetic disorders. Several single-gene, communicable and noncommunicable disorders are discussed here.
  • Gender and genetics
    This section of the GRC presents an overview of the major ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI) associated with gender and genetics.
  • Patient support services
    Offers links to support groups and online resources for people with genetic disorders worldwide. Patients with genetic disorders and their family members and friends face particular challenges that require a strong supportive health care system.
  • Ask the expert
    Includes an active panel of experts chosen by WHO to answer your queries on genetics and health issues.
  • Access and affordability of genetic services
    Discusses the current challenges in the financing of genetic services, including concerns of health care coverage and the disproportionate distribution of genetic services in countries around the world.
  • Patients' rights
    Includes a brief introduction to human rights, links to human rights organizations and documents.


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