Hospitals fail to conduct forensics

HARARE - Zimbabwe's hospitals are failing to conduct forensic pathology examinations as there are no gas chromatograph machines to conduct the processes which are used to ascertain the cause of death of individuals and assist in solving crime.

Health deputy minister Aldrin Musiiwa said government had already placed an order for one gas chromatograph which will be used by the pathology department under the Health ministry.

The revelations were made during the National Assembly question and answer session recently after MDC legislator for Harare West Jessie Majome asked the Health minister how the sector was operating without a gas chromatograph machine.

Majome asked when the ministry would replace the one and only machine which packed up in 2004, in view of the fact that this is affecting forensic pathology in public hospitals.

“What then is government doing for the needs of forensic pathology, when, as he said the only gas chromatograph machine is being used for food and nutrition and he did say they are buying one.

“In the meantime, what is happening to forensic pathology?

“What is the government doing with samples that require to be tested by a gas chromatograph machine and also, have they budgeted and when are they going to buy this one for forensic pathology?” Majome asked.

Musiiwa said the one donated machine in the country was being used for food science only.

“Currently, we have one gas chromatograph machine that is installed at the government analyst laboratory.

“However, this one was purchased by partners and it is mainly being used by the food sciences.

“For this reason, the procurement of reagents for the toxicology tests (checks for drugs or other chemicals in your blood, urine, or saliva) that are needed for forensic pathology examinations is a problem,” Musiiwa said in the National Assembly recently.

“We have as a ministry, under the department of pathology, on order one gas chromatograph for the exclusive use of the forensics.”

Forensic pathology is pathology that focuses on determining the cause of death by examining a corpse. Forensics are scientific tests or techniques used in connection with the detection of crime.

“We have one gas chromatograph machine that is installed with the analyst laboratory, this basically is a backup for the government analyst laboratory.

“So, this is the one that the forensic pathologists are using.

“However, because it does not belong to the pathology department, we have put on order a machine specifically for that department, it is on order,” Musiiwa said. 

“It has gone through tender and a purchase order has already been given.

“I would want to assure the House within the next month or so, we should have the machine installed with the laboratory.”

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