Saturday, October 24, 2020

Shortage of pathologists worries the government

Security agents are nervous about the probable consequences of the increasing workload on the limited number of forensic pathologists that Botswana has.

Botswana has only 4 Forensic pathologists that deal with cases from different areas of the country.
The Botswana Police services (BPS) have confirmed that of the 4 known pathologists, only one of them is a Motswana, the rest are foreigners and this has caused a certain level of concern amongst the BPS community and the government.

BPS has also predicted that the country needs at least 10 pathologists in order to meet the demands of the general public.

Pathologists are usually called in to help families identify their dead relatives or friends through the use of DNA testing after natural disasters or man-made disasters have occurred.
In Botswana those who died from car accidents, which have been cited to be the leading cause of death in the country, have to undergo pathology testing because it’s considered a standard procedure.

BPS’s Public Relations Officer, Christopher Mbulawa, said that all suspicious deaths are considered as homicide before the standard procedure of pathology testing rules that out and declares the cause of death.

“Match the numbers of those who die in car accidents across the country to that of the pathologists we have, its quite clear that the demand exceeds the supply by far. It however has to be mentioned that even with the increasing workload no case goes unattended,” said Mbulawa.

Kenny Kapinga, the Deputy Commissioner of BPS, said the shortage of pathologists in the country is worrying because, with time, the existing ones might not be able to handle the stress that comes with their constantly increasing workload.

“In Botswana, our pathologists are overworked to a point where they are constantly called to the courts to testify to the causes of death even in cases where the death of the deceased is obvious,” said Kapinga.

Kapinga said that it should be understood that the shortage of pathologists is not only a Botswana problem but a worldwide problem. He said that the number of pathologists the world over is limited and that at one point they have had to headhunt pathologists across the world and this proved a difficult task as pathologists were in demand everywhere. However, Kapinga said that the country’s situation is not helpless because it was only a few years ago when the BPS had only one pathologist who has since ventured into private practise but they now have 4 pathologists, which means there is hope of employing more. They currently have two pathology trainees.

“Forensic pathology is a scarce skill, it is not easy for us to recruit a pathologist,” said Kapinga.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Ramadeluka Seretse said that there is a need to implement necessary steps in increasing the number of forensic pathologists in the country, adding that Pathology brings with it new technology that is important in the region‘s fight against crime.

“Forensic pathology is a very important component of our crime fighting strategies. As we are no doubt aware, the world is currently experiencing increasing levels of crime with corresponding levels of complexity,” said Seretse.

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