Centres that carry out Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) test have been banned from advertising in Uganda, the country’s ministry of health said on Monday.
The ministry in a statement threatened the license of any DNA centre that does not comply with the directive, saying “failure to comply will result in automatic cancellation of license.”
According to the statement from the ministry, the ban was placed to control the quality of DNA paternity testing that people get when they go for one.
This is due to sharp increase in DNA testing in Uganda.
Reports by Ugandan media houses claimed that divorce and domestic violence went up in Uganda as more families patronize DNA testing centres to find out fathers of children.
In mid-July, Simon Mundeyi, the spokesperson for the Ugandan Ministry of Internal Affairs, mentioned a significant surge in test requests, involving the collection of DNA samples from both fathers and children. “Previously, we typically received about 10 applications per day at our governmental analytical laboratory. Presently, we’re handling an average of 100 daily, and this figure continues to rise,” he noted.
However, due to concerns raised by experts and citizens that fake testing kits were smuggled into the country, the Government stepped in to restrict testing centres with a ban on advertising and promotion.
The ban covers laboratories that carry out paternity relationship tests and the centres that only get samples to take to other laboratories for diagnosing.
“We want to control right from the person that collects the DNA sample and the considerations are in the level of capacity, the level of human resources, the documentation and the different standards of the facility going to carry out a DNA test, for example, you need to make sure you are using the right machines to do that test,” Dr Suzan Nabadda, the commissioner-in-charge of laboratory services at Uganda’s Ministry of Health told journalists.
According to the statement from the ministry, DNA facilities are mandated to be legally registered and provide proof of premises ownership. This includes a valid registration certificate and active license from either the Allied Health Professionals’ Council or Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioner’s Council. Facilities must adhere to standardized procedures for counseling, sample handling, and follow ministry guidelines. When transferring samples to accredited DNA testing labs, a valid, Director General-approved material transfer agreement is essential.
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