Rare diseases are chronic, progressive genetic disorders, which affect around 6-8% of the general population, mainly children. Therefore, in Israel approximately 500,000 people are probably affected by a rare disease. In this article, we review some of the issues pertaining to rare diseases, such as the need for accurate diagnosis which is necessary not only for specific care and treatment but also for informed family planning. In addition, we review the impact of the activities of patients' organizations on the awareness of rare diseases and their involvement in the creation of the Orphan Drug Act, which was the leading point on the way to drug development worldwide. During the last few years networks for reaching leading specialists' opinions on the way to proper diagnosis were created. Thereafter, the next generation genetic technologies, such as exome sequencing, have been a revolution in terms of options and hope for patients with rare undiagnosed diseases. Patients with rare diseases and their families are a challenge to the health care system, not only in terms of diagnosis and therapy, but also in terms of special needs. In addition, deciphering molecular pathways of rare diseases might be the key for understanding molecular events involved in common disorders. We emphasize the duty to ensure appropriate capacity and equal access to follow-up and clinical management of patients with rare diseases in Israel.
|Published - 1 Apr 2016