Ferdinand | EducationGhana | April 13| Blueprint DNA’s Rejoice Amponsah details How DNA and Paternity Testing is done in Ghana
Since 2018, Blueprint DNA has provided comprehensive DNA testing services in determining paternity and other family relationships, immigration, and DNA tests during pregnancy (prenatal DNA tests). Rejoice Amponsah is a compliance and quality assurance officer at Blueprint DNA Organization and discusses issues with the practice of DNA testing in Ghana.
Q: What is DNA relationship testing?
R.A: A DNA test is conducted to prove a relation, that is, whether two persons are biologically related. This may be relevant in view of the rights and duties of the relations. DNA testing is accepted worldwide as the most accurate method of determining biological relations.
Q: DNA testing appears to be gaining popularity in Ghana. What makes you believe this is happening?
R.A: There are several reasons for this. People do so for immigration purposes. When traveling abroad, you will be required to perform a DNA test on the persons who are listed as relatives in your travel documents. Secondly, a court may request a DNA test in order to settle legal issues about a child and responsibility for upkeep and maintenance.
DNA testing can also be done to provide peace of mind when an individual is uncertain of his/her origin or particular relations. Not many people are aware of the possibilities of DNA testing in Ghana. We, therefore, help with education and sensitizing the general public. DNA testing could also be used forensically to solve crimes. If DNA profiles of everyone were done, it would be easy to find out those who commit a crime at a particular time.
Q: This means you conduct Paternity tests as well.
R.A: Yes. We conduct paternity tests to determine the father of a child. It is by far the most frequently requested relationship test. The most common reason is infidelity. There are so many situations out there, we’ve read and seen incidences of fathers raising children who are not theirs, especially in these days of social media. People are learning that DNA testing can be used to determine the father of a child, rather than raising a child only to discover he is not your own.
There are other relationship tests such as maternity tests, grand-parentage tests, and uncle and aunt testing. Maternity tests are usually very helpful in cases where a baby is suspected to have been swapped in the hospital. The rate of occurrence is however very difficult to state.
Q. What are the results for the cases you handle?
R.A: The statistics are astounding. We discovered that in 2022, 70% of the tests done on firstborn children came out with negative results; which means 7 out of 10 cases, the firstborn children do not belong to the alleged fathers tested. Also, 2 out of every 5 men (40%) we tested had at least 1 negative result and as such were victims of paternity fraud. There are cases where multiple children are tested at the same time.
Q: What leads to these shocking statistics?
R.A.: In general, the statistical sample space will not be representative of the general population. Most people who walk in here may already suspect that there is a problem. And the tests help provide peace of mind and certainty to such clients. Things are happening. Some also engage in our service because they have heard other people’s stories and want to be absolutely sure of their own situation.
Q. How accurate are DNA tests?
R.A: If you perform a DNA test on a child and take samples from both parents, the results should be perfect. This is because each child inherits half of the father’s chromosome and half of the mother’s. There is a problem if there is a mismatch. The probability of paternity is above 99.5 percent and is the only accepted standard to prove a relationship scientifically, as adopted by embassies and law courts across the world.
Q. What is the craziest case you have encountered?
R.A: We encounter different peculiar cases all the time. We have cases where all three children of a wife do not belong to the husband. There are cases also whereby the child belongs to a close family member of the alleged father. In other cases, some individuals come forward after the death of a person for inheritance issues as children of the deceased. Testing sometimes comes out as relationship excluded or negative.
Q. Can there be mistakes during DNA testing?
R.A: It is possible to make an error though it is very rare. There could be such an instance if there is a mix-up with samples. However, the processes we use in our organization do not give room for such errors. Clients’ names are written behind their samples and signed by collectors and clients. When it reaches the laboratories, proper care is taken to crosscheck samples so as to run the appropriate tests.
Q. How much does a DNA test cost in Ghana? What is the procedure?
R.A: Paternity tests start from 1600- 2000ghs for peace of mind testing. There are different samples we use, such as nails, and toothbrushes. Those are non-standard samples. But our main and standard sample is the mouth swab sample. Here, we take buccal swabs from parties to be tested and run the test. Our test prices are relatively subsidized to allow those who need it to have access to the service. After taking the samples, we extract DNA and run the tests in our laboratories.
Our accredited mother laboratories are in the UK and USA. Every child takes 50% of his or her genes from the father and 50% from the mother. So what we do is compare the genes of the parties, and there must be a complete match. If there is a total match, the probability of a relationship is 99.5% or more. If there is a mismatch, however, the probability comes down to 0%. Results are ready in 8 to 10 working days. We have the express option as well, whereby results are ready in 5 to 6 working days.
Q. Do you counsel couples before you carry out the DNA test?
R.A: Yes, we do that. And we have a partner psychologist or counseling unit managed by FreeThink Consult (a group of professional Medical psychologists across Ghana) to help families go through the DNA testing process and how to deal with the results afterward as required. Some men undergo extreme stress when they discover that they have been raising another man’s children.
Q. Do couples walk into your facility or do you schedule times to meet them?
R.A: We work on an appointment basis, which helps to provide maximum privacy and confidentiality. Clients are encouraged to call a day or two ahead to arrange a booking and then we schedule their collection. We offer home services as well across the country.
Q. Do a lot of men carry out secret tests and do you encourage this?
R.A: We get a number of alleged fathers wanting to do this, yes. It is actually their decision. It is not easy to be having doubts about the child you are raising. Usually, when they discuss it with the mothers, it does not go down well with them. So the best option is to do so secretly, for their own peace of mind.
Q. What about the women? Do they also run secret tests behind their husbands’ backs?
R.A: Yes, we get cases like that as well. They come in with the child and the father’s samples to run the test just to be sure if their partners are the fathers of the children.
Q. Do a lot of marriages collapse after they’ve done a test with your organization?
R.A: I cannot confirm that. We counsel them afterward, but then the decision is theirs. We are usually only involved in the scientific aspect of the process and do not have much information on personal and private outcomes.
Q. Where are you located, and how can possible clients reach you?
R.A: Our main offices are in Dansoman, Accra, and Asafo, Kumasi. We have collection offices in every regional capital across Ghana. Not only that, we have partner offices for clients in the USA, UK, Canada, and Europe, so nowhere is too far. We can be reached by phone at +233547113957 or by email at [email protected]. All other information about Blueprint DNA can be found on www.blueprintdna.org our website.
We encourage your readers and institutions to get in touch with us if they have any inquiries or need any education at no charge. We are definitely available to help. Thank you.
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