What is SHE Biobank

SHE Biobank is a large long-term biobank study in the MENA Region with the goal of investigating the respective contributions of genetic predisposition and environmental exposure to the development of the disease.

While similar studies and biobanks have started more than a decade ago (i.e. UK Biobank started in 2006), lack of similar activities in other parts of the world have led to a growing gap in managing the health of large populations.

In recent years, Population Health studies have gained momentum in developed countries. Population health has been defined as “the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group”. [Reference]. Thanks to technological development in the last decade such as mobile health technology, wearables, and dramatic reduction of cost of advanced scientific services such as genetic testing, residents of those countries have greater access to health services, better diagnostics, monitoring, and treatment.  Large companies in the healthcare industry such as pharma and insurance companies can take advantage of additional research and creation of new services. With their access to considerable cash and fairly short-term or mid-term returns on their investment, the trend is growing even further and is opening new opportunities such as personalized drugs and emerging preventive health measures.

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While it is a welcomed advantage that leads to a healthier living at a lower cost for millions of people living in the developed world, at the same time, it is becoming another factor in widening the gap between the poor and rich countries. 

The fact above is preventing millions of people from access to treatments that are already available to others.

As an example, due to the fast development of genetic scientific studies and the drop in the cost of DNA sequencing, more and more consumers in the developing world have gained access to affordable tests. In just a few years, the cost of DNA testing has dropped from $1,000 to less than $100 (and even during shopping seasons, it can go as low as $50). Various companies are offering at-home DNA test opportunities that don’t require to be taken by a certified professional. Based on a report by February 2019 more than 26 million people have taken their DNA test and there are another 100 million people expected to take the test in the next 3 years. However, various reports have indicated that the tests performed lack diversity and the majority of DNA files are conducted for populations of European descent.