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Dr Shereen Akoojee (centre) was warmly received
by the discipline of Clinical Anatomy’s Professor
Mohamed Haffajee and Dr Okpara Azu.

The internationally acclaimed Dr Shereen Akoojee, specialist Forensic Pathologist and UKZN alumnus, drew attention to a growing need for South African researchers in forensic anatomy when she presented at the discipline of Clinical Anatomy’s (DOCA) journal club meeting held in September.

The School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences hosted Akoojee where she spoke about foetus and young infant medico-legal cases which were often related to illegal termination of pregnancy, abandoned babies and baby theft in the country.

Currently attached to the country’s Independent Medico Legal unit (IMLU) – a Street Law project established to facilitate access to justice through the development of a democratic forensic service ethos in South Africa, Akoojee serves as a forensic consultant, trainer and researcher.

Akoojee said the medical application of forensic anatomy was relevant in understanding congenital and genetic abnormalities. She said forensic anatomy positioned the medico-legal fraternity as experts in identifying gestational aging – the age of a foetus or new-born infant.

Akoojee’s presentation helped identify possible studies and stimulated further discussion that would generate research opportunities and topics in forensic anatomy. It is envisaged that such outcome would assist in establishing standards that are relevant and applicable in the South African context. Participants showed keenness to form a forensic anatomy research interest group.

Akoojee said prospective studies could establish and verify existing data in South Africa, compare local data in respect of the various factors used to establish the gestational age of a foetus, and researchers could conduct population specific studies and explore ethical issues in the South African context.

Dr Okpara Azu, senior lecturer in the discipline, said the journal club was “an informal academic garden” and introduced Dr Edwin Naidu and Dr Adeyinka Alabi, both Masters and Doctoral candidates respectively, who presented stimulating research which is pending.

Azu said the discipline was keen on expanding the horizon of their research, teaching and learning. ‘We intend to achieve this by inviting more esteemed individuals, companies and institutions to come in and share new ideas/developments from around the world.’