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UNTH mortuary overflowing with dead bodies as relations abandon 450 bodies

… As stench from decomposed bodies pose health hazards to workers, patients

By Emeka Mamah

The University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, UNTH, mortuary at Ituku-Ozalla, near Enugu metropolis, is overflowing with dead bodies as relations have abandoned no fewer than 450 corpses in the referral hospital.

Dead South African woman alive inside a morgue refrigerator
Dead South African woman alive inside a morgue refrigerator

The authorities of the hospital are worried over the health hazard posed by the inability of the owners of the corpses to collect the remains of their loved ones and have threatened to dispose them at the end of February, this year.

The dead bodies, some of which have been abandoned for over three years now, are said to be creating health-related problems due to the foul odour from them.

The UNTH Public Relations Officer, Mr Cyril Keleze, confirmed to South-East Voice that 450 corpses were abandoned in the hospital, adding that efforts to get their owners to claim them were not yielding results. He spoke in a telephone interview with the South-East Voice on Sunday.

Sources said that the existence of such a large number of unclaimed corpses was causing some health hazards to both workers and patients in the hospital due to poor power supply, even as the hospital was said to be spending thousands of naira in buying gas to fuel the hospital’s generator due to epileptic power supply from the national grid.

According to the sources, the management of the hospital had been spending scarce resources to keep the dead bodies intact. “Patients and hospital workers here are going through hell because of the stench from the decomposed bodies. You cannot breathe normally here. The whole atmosphere is fouled,” some nurses who spoke on the condition of anonymity said.

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Another health worker in the hospital also said that it was difficult for the management to accept fresh dead bodies into the mortuary in view of the inability of relations to claim the corpses of their loved ones.

He said that some of the dead bodies were abandoned due to the inability of their owners to pay the hospital bills, even as such bills were subsidised.

But, Keleze said that the UNTH had already informed the public of its readiness to dispose of the unclaimed bodies at the end of February.

“We have put out notices in the media since last month but I have not seen anybody who has cone to claim his or her own.We gave a month’s notice which will expire at the end of this month. The management will meet at the expiration of the notice to decide on the method of disposal of the corpses as well as the logistics involved.

“We appeal to the owners of the abandoned corpses to come and claim them, before the end of this month,” Keleze said.


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