K’Bu DNA machine seized, resold . Hospital fails to pay for it . Suppliers resell to Trust Hospital

DNA machine

DNA machine

A €178,000 molecular biology laboratory for conducting DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) tests at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) in Accra is no longer operational.

The facility which was established in 2010 made Ghana the first country in the West African sub-region to have the capacity to carry out DNA tests.

The facility is a pale shadow of itself, as the consulting and testing rooms have been turned into waiting rooms for other departments with other rooms locked under key, the Ghanaian Times has observed during a visit to the facility.

Information gathered by the Ghanaian Times indicates that for the past three years (since 2015 till date), Korle Bu has been without the DNA machine as persons seeking to conduct paternity tests upon arrival to the centre were referred to either the Trust Hospital, Spintex Community Hospital or the Forensic Unit of the Criminal Investigations Department under the Ghana Police Service.

The development comes at a time when there is high demand for DNA tests for travelling purposes, employment opportunities, and to determine blood lineages among others.

According to a highly placed source at the Immunology and Molecular Biology Department of the Central Laboratory of KBTH where the centre is located, the hospital only operated the machine for two years as it was unable to fulfill its side of the contract signed with the supplier of the equipment.

“When the supplier brought in the machine, the hospital was expected to pay the cost of it in installments to have complete ownership but along the line, management failed to honour their part of the deal so the supplier took the machine away,” the source who pleaded anonymity said.

 

The source alleged that the Trust Hospital in Osu, Accra had since bought the machine describing the situation as “a big loss to the hospital because it helped improve our revenue and besides we had trained specialists to handle the machine but management lacked the commitment to see it through.”

“We actually received lots of cases when the facility was in operation especially from the courts and embassies with a few walk-ins. At least in a day, two people come to the centre for enquiries and in a month, we receive about 20 cases to handle,” the disclosed.

The source underscored the importance of DNA reports in building a health conscious society.

“DNA is not only to tell the paternity of individuals but to also establish diseases or genes within the human system so you are able to guard your way of life to live healthy. Elsewhere, when a child is born, there is a full DNA report written that help to guide how they can live healthy and longer,” the source explained.

The source appealed to government and other relevant stakeholders to turn an eye to the “needs” of the hospital to enable the hospital live up to its mandate as the premier healthcare facility in the country.

When contacted, the Public Relations Officer of the hospital, Mr Mustapha Salifu confirmed that services at the DNA Centre had been suspended and that management was working around the clock to revamp the centre and make it operational.

He however fell short of giving specific timelines within which patients could have access to the centre.

Asked whether the hospital has the DNA machine in place or not, the PRO gave a conflicting response insisting that, “I’m not saying we have the machine there. We are looking at the service and if for one reason or the other, the service is not there, it doesn’t mean, it is linked to the machine.”

“We created a new unit, a cell biology unit where we provide DNA tests but for now, it has been suspended but we are working on revamping the place and the service will soon be available.  We do not want to tackle individual logistics, we looking at the service,” he said.

 

By Abigail Annoh

 

 

 

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