The Effia Nkwanta Regional Hospital (ENRH) in the Western Region will today hold a mass burial for 42 unidentified bodies dumped by the police or other persons at its mortuary.
To this end, it had opened its mortuary to the public to identify any lost relative deposited at the facility.
A notice posted by the ENRH, to confirm the exercise, said the growing trend of unidentified bodies was a hindrance and drain on the hospital’s operations.
The Public Relations Officer, ENRH, Christian Baidoo, explained the police deposited unknown or unidentified bodies at the mortuary mostly after fatal crashes.
He added that, the public must pay for mortuary services, but, because the police could not provide any proof of identification, securing the bodies became a burden on ENRH.
Mr Baidoo reported that last year, the facility recorded 30 unknown bodies, stating “the number keeps increasing, and this year, so far, we have 42 already.”
“Mortuary users need to pay a fee, but, because these bodies can’t be identified family members, we also need the cold. It becomes our burden, STMA will say we pay for space for burial, and because we don’t want them to decompose, we will have to embalm them and this is also our cost,” he indicated.
Apart from the space, Mr Baidoo told the Ghanaian Times that ENRH was also losing critical revenue as a result of the situation.
He said public response towards the public notice had been poor, but stressed “we will continue until the end of November.”
He said ENRH would work with the Environmental Department of Sekondi -Takoardi Metropolis Assembly (STMA) to undertake the exercise.
Police sources, who pleaded anonymity also spoke about the challenges they faced in dealing with the hospitals on unidentified dead bodies.
Ideally, the source noted that transporters should create a manifest like that of STC, so that in cases of emergencies, people could be easily be identified.
However, most public transport did not have this system, hence the difficulty in handling unidentified bodies at crashes scenes and eventual preservation.
“Lack of database on road transport in this country is a huge challenge. Who pays for the mortuary cost in case the police handle-vagrants or mentally challenge?” the sources asked.
“Pathologists will demand cash. STMA same for burial. And you can’t bury people just like that. You will have issues. If it is murder, coroner’s report comes in, then you have the Attorney General, hospitals, who pays for the cost?” they asked.
We need a dedicated of fund to handle this matter and avoid the tossing and reduce the pressure on the hospitals.”
The Public Relations Officer, STMA, John Laste explained that, the assembly did not charge ENRH for space for burying such unidentified bodies, but, that it was expected to pay for the cost of Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs) and disinfectants.
Mr Laste “when it comes to the autopsy, the hospital expects the Environmental Officers to pay. If it’s accident case, the police will have to run to the court for coroner’s report. Who pays for the cost?” he asked.
He said the establishment of a fund for such operations was laudable and should be implemented urgently.
FROM CLEMENT ADZEI BOYE, EFFIA NKWANTA