Wellness & Fitness

Launch of forensic laboratory is timely for healthcare


The newly built DCI National Forensic Laboratory at Directorate of Criminal Investigations(DCI) headquarters in Nairobi on June 13, 2022, during its official opening. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NMG

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) has launched a sophisticated national forensics reference laboratory in Nairobi; a first of its kind in East and Central Africa.

Amongst the myriads of profiles of forensic examinations that can be conducted herein include toxicology analyses, DNA profiling, ballistic investigations and cyber analyses.

This laboratory brings to memory scenes from the popular futuristic TV drama series Crime Scene Investigation wherein complex crimes were unraveled using advances in forensic technology.

This laboratory is not only a big boost to the justice system in Kenya, but also to healthcare services.

Providers of healthcare services have long been demoralized by the ridiculously long period of time required to test samples from victims of sexual assault or perpetrators of the same and ballistic or toxicological samples drawn during post – mortem examinations.

This has led to miscarriage of justice due to failures in presenting watertight evidence in courts of law during the prosecution of such cases.

Also, there have been huge movements around digitizing healthcare through telemedicine and automation of processes. This results in the acquisition, use and storage of large amounts of confidential data from patients. A common saying is that ‘data is the new gold’.

Therefore, the forensic laboratory’s ability to sift through cyber breaches in a timely manner will help deter cyber crimes involving patient-level data.

However, even as we laud the steps taken by the DCI in setting up this high-tech laboratory, a lot more effort needs to be put in place to ensure its sustainability and continuity of service provision.

Unfortunately, large public reference laboratories are usually dogged by erratic supplies management including lack of reagents and dysfunctional equipment maintenance.

A key strategy that can be deployed to avert this crisis is creating linkages with academic institutions in order to attract funding to keep the reference laboratory afloat. It is also critical to have well-trained professionals administering this novel institution.