During the launch of the “Public health fellowship programme-laboratory leadership programme” in Kampala, Uganda, State Minister for Primary Health Care, Ms Margaret Muhanga, made controversial remarks advising men to refrain from undergoing Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) paternity testing.
The minister claimed that such tests are not essential and may lead to disharmony in families.
Ms Muhanga stated, “It is not really important [for men to go for DNA paternity tests]. If you have raised your child, that is your child. Biology doesn’t matter. No one is looking for him [the child] after all. So, stay with your child in order to keep harmony. Because if you hear people killing each other because of DNA, why are you even going for it?” She further added, “Anything that you don’t know can’t kill you. If you don’t know that that is not your child, it won’t break your heart. But when you find out, your heart will be broken.”
Her remarks come amidst recent reports of violence within families due to DNA paternity test results. In a tragic incident, a murder case in Mpigi District was attributed to negative DNA paternity test results, highlighting the seriousness of the issue.
Dr Henry Mwebesa, the director general for health services, also addressed the matter during the event, emphasizing the responsibility of laboratories conducting sensitive tests. He urged laboratory leaders to handle communication of results with care, stating, “In the DNA [paternity] tests, you don’t just carry out the tests and throw results [to the complaining man] and say ‘that is not your child’.”
The “Public health fellowship programme-laboratory leadership programme,” which was launched during the same event, aims to enhance efficiency in service delivery and improve the overall experience of patients in hospitals. Ms Muhanga praised the program, highlighting its focus on inculcating humanity in the training of health workers. She stressed the importance of not only training laboratory managers but also teaching them how to effectively interact with clients and colleagues.