The Ministry of Health has banned Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) paternity relationship testing centres from advertising their services.
According to the ministry, any DNA centre that will be found advertising its services will have its license revoked.
“There should not be any form of advertising or promotion of a DNA sample collecting centre. Failure to comply will result in automatic cancellation of license,” the ministry said in a four-page document.
The ban, according to the ministry, applies to laboratories that collect samples and do paternity relationship testing as well as facilities that intend to do sample collection only and send samples for testing in another laboratory.
The ministry made the revelation last week during the national laboratory sector performance review meeting in Kampala. Speaking at the event, Dr Suzan Nabadda, the commissioner-in-charge of laboratory services at the Ministry of Health, said the guidelines are meant to control the quality of DNA results.
“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,” she said.
Dr Nabadda named three laboratories in the country that are accredited to do DNA testing as Government Analytical Laboratory, the Uganda Police Forensic laboratory in Naguru and MBN Clinical Laboratory.
According to the document signed by Dr Henry Mwebesa, the director general health services, a facility must be legally registered and must show proof of ownership of the premises such as land title, lease agreement or tenancy agreement.
The guidelines state that a facility must have a certificate of registration and have a valid licence from the Allied Health Professionals’ Council or Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioner’s Council.
It also must have standard operating procedures for pre and post-test counselling, and use guidelines provided by the ministry for sample collection, packaging, storage and shipment
According to the ministry, if the facility collecting the sample is transferring it to an accredited DNA testing laboratory, there shall be a valid material transfer agreement between the two, which must be approved by the director general of health services.
The demand for paternity testing in the country is on the rise, something that feminists and marriage counsellors say is tearing families apart, hence the move by the government to regulate facilities that carry out the tests.