Ethical guidelines in genetics and genomics An Islamic perspective
Aida I. Al-Aqeel, FRCP, FACMG.We are at a time of unprecedented increase in knowledge of rapidly changing technology. Such biotechnologyespecially when it involves human subjects raises complex ethical, legal, social and religious issues. A World Health Organization expert consultation concluded that "genetics advances will only be acceptable if their application is carried out ethically, with due regard to autonomy, justice, education and the beliefs and resources of each nation and community." Public health authorities are increasingly concerned by the high rate of births with genetic disorders especially in developing countries where Muslims are a majority. Therefore, it is imperative to scrutinize the available methods of prevention and management of genetic disorders. A minimum level of cultural awareness is a necessary prerequisite for the delivery of care that is culturally sensitive, especially in Islamic countries. Islam presents a complete moral, ethical, and medical framework, it is a religion which encompasses the secular with the spiritual, the mundane with the celestial and hence forms the basis of the ethical, moral and even juridical attitudes and laws towards any problem or situation. Islamic teachings carry a great deal of instructions for health promotion and disease prevention including hereditary and genetic disorders, therefore, we will discuss how these teachings play an important role in the diagnostic, management and preventive measures including: genomic research; population genetic screening (pre-marital screening, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis; assisted reproduction technology); stem cell therapy; genetic counseling and others.