Unclaimed bodies pile up in Nakuru mortuaries

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By MAGDALENE WANJA
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The county government of Nakuru has called on the residents to help resolve the puzzle of unclaimed bodies in mortuaries.

The county’s Public Health department now claims that up to 50 unclaimed bodies are recorded in a period of three months in Nakuru Level Five Hospital, Naivasha Sub-County Hospital and Gilgil mortuaries.

According to the county Public Health Officer Samuel King’ori who spoke during a Nation Media Group training on effective and science reporting in Nakuru, most of these bodies are usually brought in by police from accident and crime scenes.

“The large numbers of unclaimed bodies are as a result of members of the public shying away from identifying bodies of their loved ones in the mortuary,” said Mr King’ori.

He said before disposal of the bodies, they usually give a 21-day notice calling on members of the public to come out and identify bodies of their loved ones but in most of the cases no one shows up.

Mr King’ori noted that although in some cases they manage to trace relatives of the deceased, some fail to collect the bodies leaving the burden of disposing them to the government.

“In a period of three months, we have an accumulation of up to 50 unclaimed bodies. The government pays huge bills which include electricity for their [preservation],” he said.

He said that apart from incurring huge budgets, the bodies occupy a lot of space leaving little for new cases.

Mr King’ori pointed out that Nakuru’s location along a major highway is a contributing factor as some of the bodies are brought in from accident scenes.

In September 2015, the county government disposed off 251 unclaimed bodies at a cost of Sh5 million while in March 2016, another 63 bodies were buried after being in mortuaries for more than three months.

This comes as Nakuru struggles to find a suitable land for cemeteries five years since the main cemeteries were declared full.

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