Members of the Lower chamber of Parliament have expressed concern over the high cost of DNA tests at the Kigali-based National Forensic Laboratory, urging the Government to consider ways to bring it down.
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) tests are carried out in order to confirm a relationship such as whether an individual is the biological parent of another individual, or in criminal investigation to identify culprits, among other uses.
The MPs raised this concern on Monday, August 03, 2020 while a plenary session of the Chamber of Deputies endorsed a report by the parliamentary standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Security on tours they made in some districts of the country to assess some activities of security organs.
The National Forensic Laboratory unveiled in June 2018, carries out DNA tests at the cost of Rwf270,000 (each), a price that is nearly half what it would cost to conduct one test in foreign countries, like Germany.
MP Frank Habineza said that many people who need DNA tests are discouraged by the huge fee.
"Many people who seek services from the National Forensic Laboratory, continue to expose an issue of high cost of DNA tests, which is limiting access of many people to such service," he said, calling for the reduction of such costs.
MP Iphigenie Mukandera, the vice chairperson of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Security, said that though the prices are high compared to the financial means of some Rwandans, they are reasonable vis-à-vis the price of the equipment used at the laboratory.
"The equipment used at the laboratory is expensive such that it is difficult to extend services to different parts of the country. However, people who seek DNA exam services get them," she said.
Meanwhile, she said that the existence of the laboratory in Rwanda reduced the time and money it took to get DNA test results compared to when the service was sought abroad.
Some MPs argued that lack of DNA testing facilities in parts of the country other than Kigali, is a challenge.
The National Forensic Laboratory has conducted more than 8,000 DNA tests so far, the Committee said.
MP Marie Therese Nirere said that the Laboratory only operates from Kigali, and she thinks that if there are branches in different parts of the country, the number of samples can increase.
"I think that distance also matters in terms of access to service. A person from Rusizi District or upcountry areas find it difficult to get services in Kigali, and might demotivate them," she said.
MP Beline Uwineza said that parents, whose teenage girls were impregnated, expressed concerns over limited access to DNA tests.
"Lack of mobile laboratories for DNA tests is a problem. You realise that there are crimes that are not investigated because of such challenges," she said.