Large backlogs of toxicology tests


South Africa has already started the new year on the back foot with an enormous backlog in toxicology tests which by the end of October last year had already accumulated to 37 962 unfinished tests.

These figures were revealed by the Minister of Health in response to a written parliamentary question by the DA. The figures relate to the government’s forensic chemistry laboratories in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria.

According to Michele Clarke, the DA’s spokesperson on health, the analysis of tests is also taking place at a snail’s pace, with only 365 toxicology tests completed in October at all three laboratories.

“The minister blamed the backlog on inadequate infrastructure, broken equipment, load shedding, inadequate water supply, the Covid-19 pandemic and a shortage of human resources,” said Clarke.

The DA is now demanding the full figures of backlogs at all the government’s forensic chemistry laboratories across the country, as well as the backlog in blood analysis at the Johannesburg laboratory.

The party also wants to know what the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) has done so far to expand capacity, as well as the progress made to expand the services of the Durban forensic laboratory to include, among other things, toxicology testing.