Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública
Print version ISSN 1020-4989
LIASCOVICH, Rosa et al. A census of medical genetics services in Argentina. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2006, vol.19, n.2, pp. 104-111. ISSN 1020-4989. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49892006000200005.
OBJECTIVE: To describe the medical genetics services in Argentina, in order to help organize a network to coordinate those services, decrease inequity in access to them, and promote the comprehensive development of medical genetics in the country. METHODS: In April-August 2004 a survey was conducted of centers providing medical genetics services in Argentina, looking at their human resources, diagnostic procedures, the services that patients use, and funding. The survey covered service centers that conduct genetic assessment, cytogenetic diagnostic testing, molecular biology testing, and biochemical testing to detect birth defects or genetic disorders. Centers that were devoted exclusively to research were not surveyed. RESULTS: A total of 134 centers fulfilled the selection criteria for the survey; 84 of them were private services, and the other 50 were publicly managed services, at universities and hospitals. The 50 public facilities had a total of 67 physicians who had studied clinical genetics, plus 133 non-medical laboratory professionals. A majority of the 50 centers performed clinical and cytogenetic diagnoses, with a smaller number performing molecular, biochemical, and prenatal diagnoses. More than 70% of the centers and human resources were located in an area that includes the city of Buenos Aires, the province of Buenos Aires, and the nearby north-central provinces of Córdoba and Santa Fe. The 50 public centers were found mainly in large cities; 10 of the country's 23 provinces had no public services. CONCLUSIONS: There is a great geographic disparity in the availability of resources as well as wide variability in the diagnostic procedures that are provided in the different service centers. The unequal distribution of the facilities is an organizational problem that will require the application of policies to guarantee minimum services for people in all regions of the country, as well as access to more complex diagnostic procedures.
Keywords : Genetics; health care facilities [manpower, and services]; Argentina.