Genetic counselling is not a new profession in South Africa but it has remained small. Traditionally genetic counsellors have practiced within the academic or state health system. A hindrance to our growth has been the lack of funded genetic counselling positions within these systems. As a result genetic counsellors, us included, have had to try and forge a career path in the private sector. Anyone who has tried to break into this environment knows that this process is fraught with challenges.
There are currently 18 genetic counsellors practicing in South Africa seeing less than 10% of the people eligible for the service. Suggesting there are many people who should have genetic counselling but are not accessing or receiving appropriate support.
Internationally, and we assume it is the same for South Africa, poor patient referral and access is attributing to the healthcare providers’ and patients’ lack of knowledge of the value and role of genetic counselling. To gain an understanding of genetic counselling there are many online resources but none exist in South Africa.
The idea for a website was born out of this lack of service creating a need to:
- Elevate the profile of genetic counselling in South Africa.
- Promote an awareness of our service.
- Increase knowledge of our role in healthcare.
- Educate people about the effect of genetics on health.
All with the hopeful outcome of better use of genetic counselling services.
Our aim for www.geneticcounselling.co.za is to create an online genetic counselling community in South Africa. This website has been developed to be accessible and informative to both the general public and medical professionals.
We hope that geneticcounselling.co.za is a useful resource for both you and your patients by providing:
- Exposure through including your practice information on the website.
- A resource to refer your patients.
- A resource to refer medical professionals.
- A place to access information, support group details, and news and events relating to genetics and health.
- Access to marketing material, such as pamphlets.
- Starter kits: A pack to help you start and run your own private practice.
We cannot achieve our goal without your help and although we’ve kick started this process we would appreciate your participation and contribution towards building this community. We hope that you will join us in helping people to make sense of how genetics impacts lives and ensure that they are able to access the clinical genetic services in South Africa for appropriate support.
Thanks for dropping in and let us know what you think, please provide us with Feedback.
geneticcounselling.co.za and your practice
We realise that in South Africa there are few resources available for medical practitioners to access information about clinical genetic services and genetic testing. geneticcounselling.co.za has been developed to start bridging these gaps.
We aim to create an online genetic counselling community for South Africans. For this to happen we need to build a network between you, the general public, patients, support groups and clinical genetic services.
The focus of this the first phase of this website is to provide the general public with access to information relating to:
- how genetics impacts health.
- connect the public with clinical genetic services and support groups.(Add your professional or support group details to our database by sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org).
The information on geneticcounselling.co.za is currently addressed to the general public and is also a useful resource for you (and also for you to refer your patients).
We address simple but important issues such as:
- What is genetic counselling?
- Who are genetic counsellors?
- Who should be referred for genetic counselling?
- Common reasons for referral, such as inherited cancers, prenatal testing and genetic testing.
- What is genetic testing and who should be tested? With a frequently asked section specific for medical practitioners.
- Links to various genetic resources (some specific for medical providers).
- List of support groups in South Africa for people with inherited conditions.
- Latest news and events relating to genetics and health.
Genetic counselling as an auxiliary medical service.
Many medical practitioners have heard of genetic counselling but do not know much about this service and what benefits there are for you and your patients. Information is available in the Genetic Counselling section but we thought it important to address queries that may relate to your specific needs.
Why would I consider referring a patient for genetic counselling?
Genetic conditions are complex and to discuss this information with your patients while providing them with appropriate medical and emotional support is time-consuming. Genetic counsellors offer support to you, as they have the time and training to address with your patient the issues relating to a genetic condition while providing counsel for the emotional effect on them and their family.
How do I refer a patient for genetic counselling?
- Patient’s name and contact details.
- Contact information of treating and referring doctor.
- Reason for referral.
- Brief medical and family history.
Services and Costs
- Genetic counselling is available in the State healthcare system and in private practice.
- Genetic counselling is offered as a private consults (in-hospital visits, home visits, counsellor’s practice) or through specialist clinics (oncology clinics).
- Fees are charged as per the service provider and may exceed the recommended medical aid rate.
- A travel fee may be levied for call-outs.
Genetic counsellors in private practice
Recently more genetic counsellors in SA offer their service through private practice. Traditionally genetic counsellors were part of genetic healthcare teams founded within academic institutions or the Department of Health.
To ensure that a professional standard in the provision of genetic counselling is maintained, counsellors in private practice remain affiliated with specialist medical genetic teams, which include:
- medical geneticists,
- medical officers,
- genetic counsellors,
- genetic nurses,
- other medical specialists.
Do you need more information?
We hope you find the information useful and would value your feedback, especially as we are developing a section to specifically address the needs of medical providers. Please complete the Feedback Form to help us achieve this for you or email your comments and articles to email@example.com.
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