A National Crime Forensic Laboratory at the Kenya Medical Research ( Kemri) has been commissioned in Nairobi.
James Kimotho, who heads the Production Department at Kemri, said the facility which cost Sh1 billion will support and strengthen Government institutions like the Ministry of Health and the Criminal Investigations Department.
CID Director Ndegwa Muhoro said the laboratory will supplement the current national capacity to conduct human DNA identification, adding that the country has in some occasions been forced to send DNA samples abroad.
“With the challenges of crimes in the country, a modern and scientific method of investigations is useful. We are dealing with a liberal society where witness protection is not very strong and therefore we should present a case using scientific efforts,” said Mr Muhoro.
The two spoke during the official opening of Kemri DNA facilities and the commissioning of the Medical Culture Media Production Line in addition to celebrating the of attainment of ISO international quality standards.
Muhoro said the facility will boost disaster victim identification, adding that after the Westgate terror attack, they were forced to take some samples overseas for forensic analysis.
“Taking DNA samples to foreign countries for forensic analysis is usually expensive, time wasting and affects the country’s reputation in development of science and technology,” said Dr Kimotho.
He said medical laboratories in Kenya and the region in general lack adequate equipment and systems to prepare the much needed ready-to-use culture media for diagnosis of infectious diseases and testing for microbial drug resistance.
As a result, he said the need for manufacturing it is enhanced by the short shelf-lives nature of the ready-to-use culture media that are usually imported from developed countries as they often expire shortly after being received by laboratories.
“This among other factors makes them very expensive and inaccessible to most laboratories, leading to under-diagnosis or mis-diagnosis of infectious diseases that could result in loss of lives or poor health,” he said.
In a speech which was presented by the Secretary of Administration in the Ministry of Health Francis Musyimi, Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said the new project would improve the turnaround time for accurate laboratory diagnosis of infectious agents hence improving the overall quality of healthcare in the country.
“Many laboratories in Kenya lack adequate equipment and quality management system to guarantee quality results. As a result, various infectious diseases such as typhoid are not diagnosed early enough as prescribed by good clinical practice requirements,” he said.