BY PHYLLIS MBANJE
HOSPITAL mortuaries in Harare’s public facilities are failing to cope with the influx of bodies that are allegedly piling up, with some holding four times their carrying capacity.
Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, whose mortuary has a holding capacity of around 50 bodies, is said to be overflowing with more than 200 bodies.
Relatives collecting the remains of their loved ones have expressed concern over the way the corpses are being lumped together.
“It is against our culture to stack bodies like that. There is no respect for the dead anymore,” said a family that recently went through the trauma of retrieving their relative from a pile.
Hospital spokesperson Lenos Dhire confirmed the crisis.
“We confirm that we are having bodies that are beyond our capacity. The bodies include those which are not being collected. We also have a challenge with a shortage of forensic pathologists,” he said.
Forensic pathologists, or medical examiners, are specially trained physicians who examine the bodies of people who died suddenly, unexpectedly or violently.
The challenge of forensic pathologists has been red-flagged numerous times, and last year during a parliamentary session, there was an outcry from legislators who demanded answers from Home Affairs deputy minister Mike Madiro, who admitted that there was a shortage of pathologists in the country.
Madiro said there were two in Harare and one in Bulawayo.
He described the situation as “unhealthy” and implored the Health ministry to look into the matter urgently.
Sally Mugabe Central Hospital clinical director Hopewell Mungani said: “I am not in a position to comment.”
However, reports have said Sally Mugabe Hospital was facing similar challenges, with the mortuary overwhelmed.
Chitungwiza Central Hospital spokesperson Audrey Tasaranarwo said: “We are, indeed, facing this challenge as Chitungwiza Central Hospital. The problem we are facing is not mainly about relatives failing to collect bodies, but it is about the large number of unidentified bodies being brought from the outside, in most cases by the police, that is, cases of murder, accidents, drowning, suicide and so forth.
“When these unidentified bodies are brought in, we expect the police to go and investigate and find the relatives of the deceased and notify them so they can come and collect the bodies. The thing now is that some investigations take long or are not resolved at all. We end up keeping these bodies for a long time. Cases of internal deceased patients rarely stay a long time before the body is collected.”