Authors: Yahaya Sumara Sulley and Mohammed Lawal
(Founder & Co-founder, Forensic Science Outreach Ghana (FSOGH), Nyankpala)
The Forensic Science Outreach Ghana (FSOGH) held its first-ever annual symposium on Thursday, June 24, 2021, at the University for Development Studies (UDS), Nyankpala Campus Library Complex. The FSOGH is a scientific body established in 2019 in UDS Nyankpala to champion a forensic science education goal in Ghana through outreach, lectures, and similar related events to reach out to the next generation of professionals while informing the general public about the relevance of forensic science in national development.
The maiden event is a contribution to the national forensic science capacity advancement agenda as it falls in line with initial events held by the University of Cape Coast (UCC) and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) forensic science departments. The symposium was made up of a series of interesting sessions which included speeches, panel discussion, audio-visual sessions and a practical session to argue and discuss the theme “Forensic Science: An interdisciplinary field for achieving sustainable development in Ghana”.
With the hashtag #FSOGH2021, the founder and president of FSOGH Mr. Yahaya Sumara Sulley addressed attendees through his welcome message by stating clearly the short history, objectives, mission and vision of the FSOGH. He further asserted that adversities such as the threat posed by all forms of contemporary social and environmental issues gave rise to the theme for the symposium. He stated that the global community is facing a lot of tests that require individuals to come up with enlightened decisions, conviction and volunteerism to fix because everyone’s action inspires hope.
Professor Elliot Alhassan, Dean for the Faculty of Biosciences (UDS) gave a brief lecture on the role of forensic science education in a crime-solving revolution in Ghana. He stated the importance of forensic science education and declared that “now is the time than ever to introduce more BSc and Postgraduate forensic science programmes in our public and private universities including UDS to train students and professionals to help solve crimes in our society”.
The Keynote speaker, Dr. Lydia Quansah stated that forensic science is a public good that plays crucial roles in justice administration by giving excerpts of the short history of forensic science in Ghana and pointing out some relevant changes that have occurred over the years and also mentioning a few contemporary social and environmental issues of forensic need. She also mentioned key research findings which require more attention for proper forensic science policy implementation in Ghana and emphasized that achieving SDG 16 must be a national focus because it is an accelerator of all SDGs. She finally said, “Looking ahead into the future Ghana needs to apply a holistic theory towards achieving sustainable development with forensic science and in the course of achieving these developments there should be more synergistic intellectual discourses to discuss and debate the way to create real-world impact from our side of the world”.
Excerpts of Panel Discussion
Firstly, the panel members gave their responses on their contribution towards Sustainable development goals, “Our line of work and research help in achieving the following sustainable development goals in Ghana; SDG 3- Good health and wellbeing, SDG-4 Quality education, SDG-14 life below water, SDG-15 life on land, SDG-16 peace, justice and strong institutions”.
Dr. Francis Addy, a Lecturer in the biotechnology Department, UDS proclaimed that their department is open to collaborations from institutions that require forensic support because “he sees himself and almost everyone in forensic science basically because of work ethics, the law and standard protocols even though we might not be trained forensic scientists.
Dr. Osman Dufailu, a Lecturer in the Microbiology Department, at UDS stated that he feels there is a huge misconception about forensic science as people tend to see forensic science as a “black box” or a no-go area. He further stated that we need to start using expertise in different fields to obtain optimum results in the area of forensics in Ghana.
Miss Constance Afoakwah, Asst. Lecturer in the Forensic Science Department, UDS made an encouraging statement to the women’s audience “Getting more women on board is going to help a lot because women seem to be vulnerable to most criminal activities. We need more women to get these bad guys.”
To dismantle doubts and negative perceptions about forensic science, Mr. Isaac Oboakoh Asst. Lecturer in the Forensic Science Department said Forensic science cuts across many disciplines mainly for the purpose of justice. He also said forensic science in Ghana has been saddled with challenges however, focus on forensic science education will be the game changer as he mentioned some areas and career opportunities in the world of forensics.
Audio-visual and Practical Sessions
As part of the symposium were audio-visual sessions. First, proud sponsors of the event, GHScientific displayed a video on science evolution in Ghana to demonstrate how scientific ideas were exhibited with arts. The second video was by FSOGH where individuals from random disciplines including forensic science said a few words about the impact of forensic science in Ghana and most especially how forensic science education will play a role in the forensic science revolution in Ghana. This session was followed by a successful practical session moderated by Miss Constance Afoakwah to authenticate that no two fingers are found to have the same prints and are exactly alike in every detail.
The Chairman for the event Dr. Nelson Opoku, Head of Department (HoD) for the Biotechnology Department UDS remarked that “forensic science is very important and our hope is that the forensic science department in the UDS faculty of Biosciences will be of national relevance by helping to achieve sustainable development in Ghana”.