Author: Yahaya Sumara Sulley
Department of Forensic Sciences, Faculty of Biosciences, University for Development Studies, Tamale – Ghana
Forensic science is a field that has seen tremendous growth in recent years, with the rise of new technologies and techniques leading to improved accuracy and efficiency in criminal investigations. However, in Ghana, the use of forensic science is still largely limited to security services, with other sectors of the economy underutilizing this valuable tool.
Mr. Isaac Oboakoh, a forensic science Lecturer at the University for Development Studies Department of Forensic Sciences, and a passionate advocate for the broader use of forensic science in Ghana, recently gave a public lecture. The lecture was titled “The scope of forensic science practice in Ghana: Reflections” at the Bioscience Discourse event which is hosted by the University for Development Studies, Faculty of Biosciences, Nyankpala Campus monthly.
In his presentation, Mr. Oboakoh began with a brief background of forensic science and its applications in criminal investigations. He then highlighted the potential benefits of the broader use of forensic science in Ghana, including improved prosperity, safety, peace and just institutions, human rights, and progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 16. He emphasized the key issues facing the forensic science industry, such as justice delivery, education and research, and science communication.
The presentation then shifted focus to the forensic science job market in Ghana. Mr. Oboakoh noted that it is currently very challenging to find employment in forensic science outside of the police and academia. He discussed the role of the Ghana police service in providing forensic services in Ghana, as well as other industries that offer forensic services in Ghana such as private labs that run familial and relationship DNA tests.
Mr. Oboakoh then identified several sectors that require forensic science expertise in Ghana, including the agriculture sector, food safety, health, banking and finance, environmental protection, pharmaceutical industry, oil, petroleum and gas, FDA, disaster management, Driver licensing authority, and lands authority. He stressed that the broader use of forensic science in these areas could lead to significant improvements in Ghana’s economy and society.
To drive this revolution in Ghana, Mr. Oboakoh identified several key players who have a responsibility to promote the use of forensic science, including government agencies and policymakers, law enforcement, the private sector, media, the public, educational institutions, and forensic science professional organizations.
He also discussed several strategic actions that these key players could play roles in to promote the broader use of forensic science, such as studying and adopting related forensic science policies, counting the cost and looking at the cost-benefit analysis, ensuring stakeholder involvement in the processes, establishing proper policy maintenance culture and encouraging the dissemination, communication, and education of outcomes.
Finally, Mr. Oboakoh offered several opinions for reflection.
I think it is time to rerank and reprioritize our competing priorities by learning from other countries that are reaping the benefits of forensic science. Then we can start thinking of building a strong legal framework to govern forensic science applications in Ghana. We need to design our forensic science curriculums to be more diversified to enable the development of professionals who can work in diverse fields. There is currently a dearth of experience in the field in Ghana. It is clear that the country needs the input of our professionals who find themselves working abroad to help fill some of the gaps we are dealing with in this country.
We can continue to use outreach and advocacy as a tool to fuel us to reach our destination. Because right now, it appears that if we don’t communicate, we may never be heard. Let us invest in capacity building. This can start from higher-level educational institutions. Investing in staff capacity building is one way of attracting both foreign and local interest for collaborations to develop the forensic science discipline in this country.
Until we prioritize forensic science as a tool for achieving SDGs our young researchers in the field will continue to lack research funding to contribute to the development of the field in Ghana. Our passionate students will struggle to get scholarships to pursue their dreams to help provide safety and security for Ghana.Oboakoh, Bioscience Discourse, 2023.
In conclusion, Mr. Oboakoh’s presentation was both revolutionary and passionate, highlighting the vast potential for forensic science in Ghana and the urgent need to broaden its use across the economy. It is clear that forensic science has much to offer Ghana in terms of prosperity, safety, and justice, and it is up to all of us to work together to unlock its full potential.
Acknowledgment: Research and Grant Support Unit (RGSU) – UDS, Faculty of Biosciences