Isiolo county moves to expand morgue as unclaimed bodies pile

Isiolo County Referral Hospital, morgue. [Josphat Thiong'o, Standard]

Isiolo County Referral Hospital morgue is reeling from the weight of unclaimed bodies that continue to pile up.

 With only a capacity to accommodate only 12 bodies, the facility is currently holding 32 bodies, 20 more than the recommended limit.

 According to Isiolo county Medical Services Chief Officer Abdirahman Ibrahim, the facility is the only one in the county and plays host to victims of bandit attacks, road accident casualties,still births and bodies of people who've met their natural deaths.

 "This is the only mortuary serving Isiolo, Marsabit and parts of Samburu. Bodies collected by the police are brought here,” said Ibrahim.

 "We only have four refrigerators to preserve the 12 bodies. I'm sure you can now understand how dire the situation is," he added.

 The chief officer further explained that as a result of the piling up of bodies and them going unclaimed, they had experienced a frequent breakdown of the very machines meant to preserve the bodies.

 Ibrahim confided that the situation had been made worse by the lack of collection of infants bodies and stillbirths for interment.  This, he attributes to cultural taboos in the region that prohibit the collection of bodies for the same.

 "A majority of families do not collect infant bodies. Stillbirths births continue to pile up filling up the much required space," he observed.

 The county had earlier this month advertised for the public to pick up 11 unclaimed bodies within 21 days failure to which they would be apply for their disposal.

 The medical services chief officer however revealed that the Governor Abdi Guyo-led county had already tendered for the repair of the machines that preserve the bodies at a cost of Sh10 million with the works expected to begin next week.

 “The tender we awarded is of sh10 million. It is meant to service and expand the existing machines and incorporate new ones that can accommodate 16 bodies,” he said.

 Ibrahim further noted that plans  were in top gear to put up a stand-alone, fully equipped morgue in order to allow the current one continue serving the referral hospital.

 "The county is also putting up an accident and emergency unit  to decongest and expand its capacity," he added.

 Additionally, he revealed, the county has gotten into an agreement with the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) for the timely supply of drugs to the referal facility that serves approximately 300 to 700 people a day.

 " As the only Referal Hospital in the area, we have ensured that we are fully stocked to ensure that our patients who often come from even neighboring countries are treated," avered Ibrahim.

 This, he said, was the arrangement across all the 56 health facilities in Isiolo which include a Level 5 and two level 4 hospitals.

 Notably, the issue of the dire state of the morgue was brought to the fore by members of the Moses Kajwang-led  Senate County Public Accounts Committee which had visited the county  two weeks ago.

 The county watchdog committee was on a fact finding mission on the operations of referal hospital.

 Meanwhile, operations at the Isiolo County referal Hospital continue uninterrupted despite the ongoing health workers strike.

 The Kenya Medical Practioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union(KMPDU) is currently in a standaoff with the National Government. The union is demanding for the posting of medical interns to right job groups, implementation of the basic salary component in the CBA, comprehensive medical cover for doctors, post graduate training and paying for post graduate doctors, and employment of the over 50,000 doctors yet to be posted.

 Ibrahim however confirmed that patients will continue to receive services until the issue between the two parties reaches an amicable solution.

 “The strike has affected us but work is ongoing. We have never turned away a patient from this facility because of doctors’ strike. We have not closed down the facility,” he said.