The Government has procured a $50.5M analysis workflow system for the Guyana Forensic Science Laboratory, Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn told the Committee of Supply today, as he sought approval for advances taken from the Consolidated Fund.
In defending the purchase, Minister Benn said the machine will boost the DNA testing capability of the Forensic Lab and will significantly reduce the backlog of cases that require DNA tests, once it is properly set up.
“Once it is properly up and running, we will be on top of the situation in respect of having the ability to do proper sampling, proper testing and providing the right analytical results at more than 95% in relation to all types of DNA testing samples,” the Home Affairs Minister explained.
Minister Benn said the new machine, will replace one that was procured in 2017 but was performing below expectation.
“While it did a number of runs, it fell below the requisite standards and capability in relation to doing complete analysis in relation to DNA for criminological investigation…and that is to say, the machine could not run analyses for degraded samples. So, for perhaps, if there was a fresh blood or fresh sample, you would get some result with maybe 75%, 80% accuracy, so that was a problem. It could not run degraded blood or bone samples,” the Home Affairs Minister explained.
He said to compound the situation, the company, which had manufactured the machine, was sold to a larger company – Thermo Fisher Scientific – which had stopped producing the machine and supplying the necessary reagents needed to do analysis.
The Home Affairs Minister said in the interim, the samples are being sent abroad to be tested.
It was further disclosed that five DNA analysts will soon be certified to operate the DNA analysis workflow system.