State warns Kenyans against Sh800 'home' DNA tests

dna testing

The Pharmacy and Poisons Board said DNA testing kits being marketed to Kenyans should not be bought by the public. 

Photo credit: Shutterstock

The government has come out to warn Kenyans against purchase or use of home DNA testing kits, saying anyone selling them is doing so illegally.

The Pharmacy and Poisons Board, through CEO Dr Fred Siyoi, issued a statement Thursday saying the Sh800 testing kits being marketed to Kenyans should not be bought by the public. 

"Please note that the PPB has not authorised any retailer to sell such kits...Consumers are encouraged to report (sellers) to the PPB in case they come across any retailer selling related products via [email protected]," the regulator said. 

The agency has asked Kenyans to regularly check its website to authenticate authorised medical equipment and drugs. 

Talk of the home DNA testing kits took the internet by storm this week after former Nominated Senator Millicent Omanga tweeted that Kenya has allowed DNA paternity testing kits that can be used at home.

The conversation snowballed online with former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko cautioning Kenyans against the tests, saying many families stand to be broken if they undertake paternity testing.

However, it later emerged that the home test is actually only a simple collection kit/swab and not a test kit.

While clarifying, Dr Ahmed Kalebi, a consultant pathologist based in Nairobi, explained that for the actual DNA test, the sample collected has to be mailed/shipped to the lab where the testing fee is a minimum Sh15,000.

“Unfortunately there seems to be a lot of misinformation going round perpetuated by social media comments suggesting that the DNA test only costs Sh800. That is not true. The test costs more than Sh16,000,” Dr Kalebi explained in a series of tweets.

DNA tests are usually carried out to determine if a man is actually the biological father of a child. It is based on the fact that 50 percent of a child’s DNA is inherited from the father and 50 percent from the mother.

The 24-marker DNA test costs Sh10,000 per person and a total of  Sh20,000 for both the alleged father and the child.

A 44-marker DNA test costs Sh17, 500 per person.

Additional report by Leon Lidigu