Community Genetics and Dignity in Diversity in the Quebec Network of Genetic MedicineScriver C.R.
Departments of Biology, Human Genetics, and Pediatrics, Faculties of Science and Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
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The Quebec Network of Genetic Medicine (QNGM), implemented in 1971, has been an integrated program of community genetics serving the population (approximately 7.5 million) of Quebec province in Canada. QNGM reported to the Minister of Social Affairs and operated under an umbrella of universal health insurance in the province. The Network’s programs have been run by members of the four university medical schools of the province under the direction of a central committee. A global annual budget was awarded to QNGM from its inception. Among its many programs, QNGM supported: (1) two newborn screening programs (using blood and urine samples) for early diagnosis, treatment and research in phenylketonuria, hereditary tyrosinemia, congenital hypothyroidism, and in a large number of other hereditary metabolic diseases; (2) follow-up of confirmatory diagnostic tests at regional centers, followed by supervision of ambulatory treatment modalities; (3) carrier screening and reproductive counseling for Tay-Sachs and β-thalassemia diseases; (4) a spectrum of feasibility (research) studies (e.g., screening for biotinidase deficiency, neuroblastoma, hemoglobinopathies, and cystic fibrosis) to inform policy decisions. QNGM performed economic analyses of its major programs and followed prevailing ethical guidelines. Its global budget and integrated structure terminated in 1994, although some of its programs continue independently.
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