$50M approved to boost DNA testing capabilities

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The Committee of Supply approved $50.5 million for the provision of additional resources to support the Guyana Forensic Science Laboratory, specifically for the acquisition of a DNA analysis workflow system.

This system is expected to enhance Guyana’s DNA testing capability and assist in criminal investigations.

Home Affairs Minister, Robeson Benn explained that the equipment which was acquired in 2017 could not render accurate results, therefore posing a challenge.

“The machine could not run analysis for degraded samples. So…if there was fresh blood or fresh samples , you would get results with maybe 75 per cent , 80 per cent accuracy. That was a problem in itself; it could not run degraded blood or bone samples,” Minister Benn informed the Committee.

As such, the Ministry was compelled to replace the old DNA analysis system. This system is expected to be up and running in the next few months, thereby assisting in the backlog of cases that requires DNA testing.

“We expect that within five or six months, once it’s properly up and running, we would be on top of the situation in respect of having a bid to do proper sampling, proper testing and providing the right analytical results at more than 90 per cent in relation to all types of DNA samples.”

Five DNA Analysts will soon be certified to operate the new DNA testing machine. Additional persons are expected to be trained in DNA analysis in an effort to reduce the backlog of DNA samples.

“In addition, we will train new persons, more persons in the use of the new machine,” Minister Benn added.