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PENANG, 5 September 2023 – Professor Dr. Zilfalil Alwi, a Consultant Specialist in Paediatrics and Medical Genetics, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), has been appointed to the World Health Organization (WHO) Technical Advisory Group on Genomics (TAG-G).

The two-year appointment for Zilfalil beginning 24 August is a major acknowledgement for the country as he is the sole Malaysian among the 15 to be appointed as part of the genomics advisory group to WHO. 

WHO TAG-G is a Technical Advisory Group in the field of genomics to the World Health Organization (WHO). This is the first time it was established to provide support and technical guidelines on activities conducted by the WHO Secretariat to facilitate access to genomics technology in bringing benefits to global health, especially in the area of human genome.

In its advisory capacity, the group would need to reassess and advise on prioritised activities to be considered by WHO to expedite access to genomics technology for global health, including promotional and advocacy, aside from other technical activities.

According to Zilfalil, there are additional roles to undertake being a member of the group and it involves the development of the field of genomics.

“The establishment of TAG-G would provide various benefits to society and the nation, as TAG-G will support WHO in expediting access to genomics technology for global health, more specifically to the human genome, via technical support and guidelines.

“This would drive forward the field of genomics further worldwide, especially among the low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), where there exists a wide gap compared to the high-income countries (HIC),” he said further.

Zilfalil added that the membership would have a significant impact as the LMIC group would have access to the latest knowledge and expertise in the field of genomics.

“It would simultaneously allow these countries to raise their capabilities in the fields of research and medicine that are genome-based, providing opportunities to identify genetic risk factors for certain illnesses and to develop a more personalized and effective treatment,” he said.

He also said that, the approach taken by TAG-G to reassess and provide advice on prioritised activities in expediting access to genomics technology would make it possible for our country and other countries in the world to take strategic measures in developing the health sector.

He then stated, this could assist our country in dealing with health challenges which have become more complex with more holistic and advanced approaches, in ensuring that there is readiness in providing treatment and healthcare which are targeted and more efficient.

“Advances in the field of genomics and health would offer new job opportunities, raising the country’s competitiveness at the global stage, and bring economic benefits to society at large,” he stated.

Translation: Mazlan Hanafi Basharudin

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