By Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu
Mpilo Central Hospital mortuary has 222 bodies against its holding capacity of about 100 bodies as relatives are not collecting the bodies of their loved ones for burial.
Some of the bodies have been in the mortuary for more than a year now and 10 days ago the figure had shot up to 446 bodies before the burial of 195 stillborn babies.
The hospital is set to facilitate pauper’s burials for some of the bodies that have remained unclaimed for a long time.
When the hospital went for more than 72 hours without power 10 days ago, it had 446 bodies in the mortuary and had to rely on generators to ensure smooth running of critical departments that include the mortuary.
The 900-bed hospital caters mainly for the southern region which covers Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South as well as Masvingo and Midlands provinces.
In an interview, acting clinical director Dr Xolani Ndlovu said the piling up of bodies was worrying and the development was worsened by erratic power supplies.
He said during power outages, Mpilo has to sacrifice meagre resources to buy diesel to keep the mortuary running just to avoid decomposition of bodies.
Dr Ndlovu urged members of the public to come forward and claim bodies of their relatives saying the deceased persons deserve decent burials.
He said pauper’s burials were a last resort for the hospital.
According to policy, a body that is not claimed after a period of nine months should be given a pauper’s burial.
Government, through the Department of Social Welfare, undertakes the pauper’s burial as a way of safeguarding the dignity of individuals even in death. In such cases hospitals are forced to meet burial expenses, which eat into their operational budgets.
Dr Ndlovu said the figure was at 446 before the burial of 195 stillborn babies.
“We have been having power problems for some time and the situation improved a bit over the past few days which has eased some pressure from our end.
“One of our greatest challenges brought by power outage was the fact that we have overcrowding at our mortuary which was built to take up about 100 people at a time,” said Dr Ndlovu.
“At one point we had 446 bodies in the mortuary and we had to bury 195 neonates. These babies are usually left as some mothers prefer that the hospital facilitates their burial.”
Dr Ndlovu said pauper’s burial was a last resort as they meant bodies will be placed on unmarked graves.
“We are then forced to conduct pauper’s burials for the unclaimed bodies hence we urge people to claim the bodies of their relatives so that we decongest the mortuary. With power cuts these bodies are at a risk of decomposing,” he said. The Chronicle