Service Provision

Rather than a simplistic and insensitive strategy of discouraging close relative marriage at population level – an approach that has failed elsewhere and caused considerable hostility – service responses must focus on raising the levels of awareness and removing obstacles to genetic counselling and testing. There must be a clear focus on addressing inequalities and enhancing informed reproductive decision-making.

The World Health Organisation currently recommends a multi-professional service response to the issue of increased genetic risk associated with close relative marriage, which combines:

  1. Family-focused services for at risk individuals and families (including family tracing and proactive offer of counselling and testing).
  2. Activities at community level to raise genetic literacy and encourage uptake of services.
  3. Training to enhance competence and confidence of health and community professionals (to provide information and make appropriate referrals).