Malawian Minister of Health, Catherine Gotani Hara has apologised unreservedly for the rotting of bodies at the Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Lilongwe for over a month due to broken down cold rooms.
Hara who had claimed that she was not aware of the stench that has engulfed the referral health facility, said the situation is “unacceptable.”
However, in a statement, the Ministry of Health said the KCH mortuary has had three working cold rooms over the years (the fourth one require major maintenance).
“At the beginning of last week, only one cold room was working and considering that this is a facility that has always had 3 cold rooms, obviously the only room working was under pressure. At that time, the management at KCH was working to engage the company to repair the cold rooms who were demanding an upfront payment for the service.
“Fortunately the payment was ready by 20th February and one cold room started working during the weekend leaving the cold room for unclaimed bodies the only non-functional cold room. Unfortunately the bodies continued to decompose therein.”
The Ministry said some unclaimed bodies that are brought by the Police are in different states (others can stay longer while some are already in a decomposing state).
“Therefore, the breakdown of the cold room that keeps the unclaimed bodies resulted in making the unclaimed bodies start decomposing and it became a very unpleasant environment for both health workers and the general public,” said the Ministry
The Ministry said the situation is “unacceptable” which should have been noted and rectified in good time .
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health informed that government has facilitated “an urgent repairing of all the malfunctioning cold rooms as an immediate action to ensure the cold rooms are operating as expected.”
The Ministry said in the next two days, the cold room should be back to normal.
In many Malawian hospitals, mortuaries are in such a sorry state that bereaved people dread having to pick up bodies of their loved ones from there.
Tales of maggots and blood-dripping bodies piled onto each other are not uncommon
It’s a cultural imperative and human obligation that the dead be treated with honour and dignity, and one way to live by that is to improve the services in the mortuaries through more funding or other means.
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