16 August 2017
LAWMAKERS are worried by the absence of a critical machine at the Government Analyst Lab.
This has led to the country’s failure to carry out some forensic pathology locally.
Harare West legislator Jessie Majome is concerned that the Minister of Health and Child Care David Parirenyatwa has failed to appraise the August house on what the Government was doing to ensure that the critical machine known as the Gas Chromatograph is made available.
The absence of this machine has also stalled a lot of court cases as it is used to investigate the cause of death when it occurs under mysterious circumstances or where foul play and murder is suspected to be the cause of death.
“For months I have been waiting for the Minister’s response on this critical question where I want him to inform the House when the Ministry would replace the one and only Gas Chromatograph machine which packed up in 2004, in view of the fact that this is affecting forensic pathology in public hospitals,” Hon Majome raised the matter last week.
Her question has had no response since May 3 due to the Health Minister’ s unavailability.
Forensic pathology in the country is done by the Government Analyst Laboratory where samples are sent from hospitals.
Officials at Government Lab are on record telling the Minister of Health and Child Care that some samples have been in the lab for over 10 years due to the unavailability of the machine.
During a tour of the lab, samples could be seen protruding from the refrigerators while some samples were emitting a strong stench.
Zimbabwe is sending some samples to South Africa for forensic pathology due to the gas chromatography crisis.
H-Metro is reliably informed that the gas chromatohraph is now at the Government Labs where it is awaiting commissioning.
The purpose of the machine is to determine which fluids and compounds are present inside a human body after death.
The function is critical in determining whether a person was intoxicated either with alcohol or drug abuse at the time of death or indeed whether there is any poison or other harmful substance present in their body.
The knowledge is imperative to determining cause of death and possible motive and culprit in the case of foul play.
The machine can also be used to test samples found at a crime scene, whether these be blood samples or fibre samples from clothing or other material.
This allows scientists to pinpoint exactly what (and perhaps who) was present at the scene of the crime, and may even allow them to develop theories on where the suspect (or victim) had been before, depending on the variety of material found.