Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
The situation at Beitbridge District Hospital remains critical with authorities struggling to raise $500 000 to service the Government mortuary that serves a population of 250 000 people.
The mortuary carries a mere 37 bodies and in some cases, several bodies especially those forming part of police investigations or are unidentified stay longer than 3 months.
These are usually disposed of through pauper burials following a long strenuous process. The state of affairs at the 140-bed hospital has gone from bad to worse with authorities failing to secure resources to repair broken down cooling systems. There are several private parlours in the town but they are expensive so most bodies are being kept in one unit at the public hospital which carries only 12 bodies.
Currently, the mortuary is crowded with bodies of people whose surviving relatives can’t afford services of private funeral parlours. Private parlours charge between R3 000 and R4 500 depending with the package of services.
Beitbridge District Medical Officer, Dr Lenos Samhere said they had contracted a company to service the mortuary and they were expecting things to normalise soon. “We need something in the range of $500 000 to get the mortuary functioning to its capacity,” he said.
“The mortuary can carry at least 37 remains when fully operational but now we are operating with one unit which carries 12 bodies. “Our cold room that carries 10 bodies and the freezer (which carries three bodies) in the new mortuary extension is not working. We hope to fix the broken down units should we get any funding soon”.
Dr Samhere said resource constraints had been the major undoing in their efforts to get things moving.
He said they were doing everything necessary to ensure that they offer quality health services to the community.
The health official said some bodies were in a bad state at the mortuary and that the situation might get worse as temperatures rise.
Beitbridge East Legislator, Cde Albert Nguluvhe said, “The situation at the hospital is bad. I will be visiting the hospital on Tuesday to ascertain the extent of the problems and see how best we can salvage the situation”.
The town falls under the Beitbridge East constituency.
Chairman of the local businesses association, Mr Nkululeko Milidi said they will engage the hospital authorities with the view of minimising the challenges the communities are facing. In November last year,
Beitbridge District Hospital authorities had to suspend operations at the mortuary as a result of a wave of power outages.
Services were restored a month later after load shedding was reduced from 18 hours daily to six hours. At some point, the hospital relied on a generator for alternative power supply but it gave in and in addition, the costs of fuel to power it were reported to be threatening to cripple operations.