Gotani says negligence led to bodies rot at KCH mortuary

Minister of Health, Catherine Gotani, said on Tuesday that Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) mortuary at Malawi’s major referral hospital had bodies rotting after three of its coldrooms broke down because of “gross negligence “by some top officials.

The Minister was speaking at a presidential news conference in the capital Lilongwe on Tuesday.

President Joyce Banda had asked her to explain to reporters what to led to dead bodies piling up on the hospital and consequently leading to suspension of services at the morgue.

Gotani said a mortuary official had reported to the Hospital Administrator in December last year to stop the pile up of unclaimed dead bodies but authorities at the hospital administration failed to act on recommendations.

Minister of Health Catherine Gotani Hara: Negligence
Minister of Health Catherine Gotani Hara: Negligence

The Minister said on December 10, 2013, a list of unclaimed bodies was submitted to Hospital Administrator Mable Chinkhata recommending that the bodies be removed and buried immediately. This was after consultations with police and prison authorities where the bodies were coming from.

Gotani informed that Chinkhata decided to go for a Christmas holiday before resolving the issue and referred the matter to the chief hospital administrator Mr Nyasulu.

But when Chinkhata came back from holiday, she discovered that there was inaction from Nyasulu– the bodies had not been removed and were in a bad state.

The Office of President and Cabinet (OPC) has also issued a report on the matter prepared by Often Thyolani, Principal Secretary in charge of security in OPC.

The OPC report states that Nyasulu had misplaced the list of unclaimed bodies.

The closure of the mortuary at Kamuzu central hospital, one of the only two main hospitals in the country, caused hysteria inside and around the hospital as the purging of gases and fluids resulted into a strong distinctive smell associated with decay of decomposing dead bodies

Authorities quickly removed the unclaimed bodies to clear the pile up in the two working cold rooms but it was too late because cameras and activists who immediately blamed President Banda’s administration surrounded the hospital.

Kamuzu central hospital has always operated with four cold rooms in the mortuary until 2009 when one broke down and has never been repaired.

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