Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Health Ministry seeks input to precision health briefing

The Ministry of Health is seeking written feedback on its proposed Long-term Insights Briefing topic, precision health, in what is the first phase of a two-phase public consultation approach to develop the briefing. 

The Ministry’s proposed topic is: Precision health: Exploring opportunities and challenges to predict, prevent, diagnose, and treat disease more precisely in Aotearoa New Zealand.   

It says precision health is a growing field that aims to use emerging technology, and all available information (such as an individual’s genome, current biophysical measures, and environment) to predict, prevent, diagnose, and treat disease, more accurately, for people and whānau.

Examples of precision health include:   

  • screening at birth to identify genetic variants indicating any diseases you are at higher risk of developing later in life;
  • regular non-invasive screening to detect signs of cancer development;
  • biologic and genomic testing to identify how your diet can impact on blood glucose, if you have diabetes;
  • regular wastewater surveillance to identify outbreaks – such as COVID-19;
  • activity trackers that identify high blood pressure and/or irregular heart rhythm and prompt you to contact your primary care provider.  

Ministry of Health Chief Science Advisor, Dr Ian Town says advances in precision health can contribute to more effective prevention and treatment, including how we screen for, diagnose, and treat diseases. In Aotearoa, however, this potential is underdeveloped compared to other countries, he said.

“In the reformed system, we will have a renewed opportunity to explore emerging research along with the barriers holding us back from taking up this field.

“With this understanding, it will be possible to share future advances in precision health in a more coordinated way across the health system,” Dr Town said.

“We’re inviting feedback on what we explore within our briefing, to ensure we are positioned to take advantage of future precision health opportunities,” he said. 

Consultation on the proposed topic closes at 5pm on 27 January 2023. To find out more and make a submission, visit Precision health: Exploring opportunities and challenges to predict, prevent, diagnose, and treat disease more precisely in Aotearoa New Zealand.

For more information on Long-term Insights Briefings, please see the Policy Project website

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