One forensic pathologist for southern region
There is only one forensic pathologist in the public sector servicing the southern parts of the country, a situation which causes delay in solving murder cases.
Forensic pathology focuses on determining the cause of death by examining a corpse.
In total, the country only has two government employed forensic pathologists and has to rely on expatriates mostly from Cuba.
Speaking in the senate on Thursday, Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Obadiah Moyo said this problem has persisted for many years.
This affects the time in which a post mortem is conducted to determine the cause of death.
“In Zimbabwe, we have very few forensic pathologists, I think we have two,” said Dr Moyo.
“In Bulawayo we have one and we were being assisted by the Cubans who used to send forensic pathologists.
“What this means is that if it is in Harare, we have to wait until Wednesday to get the forensic pathologist to do the post postmortems.
Dr Moyo said they sometimes enlist the services of another group of pathologists to conduct postmortems.
“However, we have other pathologists who are not called forensic pathologists, they are histopathologists who can conduct general post-postmortems,” he said.
Histopathologists are doctors who diagnose and study disease using expert medical interpretation of cells and tissue samples.
Dr Moyo said there was need to capacitate histopathologists so they can be trained as forensic pathologists and assist in solving a lot of police cases that require such expertise.
“However, if a human body is found in a river or a well, it becomes a police case and it needs the services of a forensic pathologist,” said Dr Moyo.
“We surely encounter these cases and it disadvantages the families of the deceased because they have to spend a lot of money in sourcing food for mourners at the funeral”.
The health minister said government was working on a programme to train more forensic pathologists.
“We are working towards getting our own forensic pathologists in Zimbabwe,” he said.
“It is a challenge that will persist until we get these pathologists. We are also submitting requests to allow us to engage histopathologists so that they also do what forensic pathologists do.
“On a contrary note, you will understand that if your relative is deceased through murder; you would want to have ample evidence on the case”.