oa Africa Insight - Genetics and disease of man in Africa: an outline of their mutual interdependence

Volume 4, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0256-2804



In a synoptical analysis of the etiology of human disease three general sources of causation appear to be of general importance: the prevailing geographical environmental (physical as well as biological) conditions; the socio-cultural practices and influences emanating from a particular society; and, thirdly, the endogenous biological characteristics inherent in a particular population_ For the disease pattern of the peoples of Africa, the increasing importance of endogenous etiological factors, in addition to the others, have again been emphasized recently (Snyman, 1973). As a corollary, innumerable recent investigations reveal an unexpectedly large degree of genetic heterogeneity in man. The biological significance of the greatest part of this naturally occurring genetic variability between and within populations is at present not completely understood. The interpretation thereof, either as being truly ""neutral"", or as having (had) some selective advantage, however small, is a highly topical subject in present day human and population genetics.

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