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Police forensic lab gets nod to enter DNA testing market

A Police lab technician shows how tests are done. PHOTO POLICE MEDIA

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT |  The government has approved the Uganda Police Force’s forensic laboratory for Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) testing, making it the third lab in the country to be authorized to conduct such examinations. This development comes amid a surge in demand for paternity testing, with men seeking to verify their children’s parentage.

Fred Enanga, the spokesperson of the Uganda Police Force, emphasized the significance of clearing their DNA lab as it plays a crucial role in enhancing criminal justice.

“The clearance of our DNA lab is important in enhancing criminal justice. The comparison of DNA is more accurate than eyewitnesses. In a criminal investigation, DNA is used for things like paternity, maternity and sibling identification, dead body identification, and immigration DNA testing among others,” Enanga said.

The development comes amidst increased DNA testing by men to confirm the paternity of the children under their care. Some men have been stealthily taking samples of their children including hair and fingernail for testing, but they are often advised to physically take the children to the Government Analytical Laboratory – GAL in Wandegeya.

There have been cases where men, including prominent business persons, were left disheartened by the DNA results after discovering that not all of their children are biologically related to them. This prompted the government to regulate DNA testing centers in the country. Two weeks ago, Health Minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng announced that only GAL and MBN Laboratories in Nakasero have approval to conduct paternity testing.

The decision was based on a thorough examination of DNA testing centers, with the accredited labs meeting rigorous requirements. Dr. Aceng highlighted that the laboratories would be required to offer pre and post-counseling to individuals undergoing DNA tests to address possible mental health consequences.

The guidelines for DNA testing centers include strict data management, with other centers only allowed to collect blood or saliva samples in agreement with accredited labs. Additionally, DNA test shipments require endorsement from the Director General for Health. According to Aceng, the government has left the door open for applications from other laboratories and clinics that meet the standards upon assessment with the aim of preventing misinformation and stopping unqualified practitioners.

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