Israel's only forensics institute called underfunded, understaffed

Institute short NIS 4 million a year; causes delay in processing police pathology reports.

forensic health dead 88 (photo credit: )
forensic health dead 88
(photo credit: )
The L. Greenberg Institute for Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir is underfunded and has too few staffers, according to the Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee, which said the institute is unable to conduct proper autopsies or perform clinical examinations of rape victims living outside the center of the country. Committee chairman MK Moshe Sharoni (GIL Pensioners Party) said the institute was short NIS 4 million a year and the problem must be dealt with urgently because the situation was delaying the processing of police pathology reports and identifying victims of catastrophes. The committee called on the Health, Justice, Finance and Public Security Ministries to get together and decide who would take direct professional and financial responsibility for the institute. A few years ago, it was put under the aegis of Assaf Harofeh Medical Center after its director - chief pathologist Prof. Yehuda Hiss - was found responsible for improper use and protection of body parts. The committee also demanded that the ministries consider demands to upgrade the institute by allocating NIS 23m. for development over five years. The government was given a month to report back on the agreements they reached. MK Ahmed Tibi (a gynecologist by profession) said that the shortage in manpower slots at the institute greatly harmed the level of service that staffers were able to give. MK Aryeh Eldad (a plastic surgeon by profession) said that the institute's problems affected medical, research and legal processes that are now in crisis. Dr. Benny Davidson, director-general of Assaf Harofeh, said the institute is the only one of its kind in Israel and a tool for establishing justice and enforcing the law. Specimens taken from the scene of a crime or a mass catastrophe are not handled properly because of the lack of funds, said Miriam Azzouri of the Internal Security Ministry. The institute's budget has not be updated for 20 years, added Ruth Ralbag, head of the Health Ministry's budgeting branch. Eight job slots for pathologists should be added gradually, and more are needed for the biological lab. Computers and scientific equipment are also lacking, said Ralbag. But Reuven Kogan of the Finance Ministry said he was seeing documents about the need to upgrade the institute "for the first time" and thought an agreement on funding could be reached in time for the 2008 National Budget.