Papua New Guinea
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Morgue out of service for five years, funding needed


As the government continues its globe trotting, the Nonga Base hospital in Rabaul, East New Britain province is facing a crisis with no morgue cooling chamber for the last five years.

The dead are piled on top of each other and put into chest freezers that cannot hold more than four bodies at any given time.

The hospital’s morgue is currently the only mortuary in the province that caters for the for 400,000 people.

Hospital manager Dr Osiat Baining confirmed the hospital’s dilemma saying that the faulty chamber saw the hospital purchase nine chest freezers which cater for the dead.

Dead bodies are put in body bags and piled on top of each other and stored in large chest freezers inside the morgue.

Post-Courier was informed that the Health Secretary Dr Osborne Liko is in the process of getting appropriate information on the matter and a detailed response will be issued later.

The Post-Courier understands that given the autonomy of the provincial health authority (PHA’s), the CEOs of the hospital and the PHAs are the appropriate people to speak to.

Dr Baining confirmed with this paper yesterday that the hospital morgue’s cooling chamber has been faulty and in need of new parts that can only be purchased overseas.

“It’s been faulty for a couple of years now, for more than five years already, so we have been using chest freezers.

“We have about eight to nine chest freezers, for capacity, one chest freezer can hold up to four dead bodies.

“We have been trying to get a new chamber because we don’t have parts available in the country for the one we have. Its an old one too and needs to be replaced,” he said.

Dr Baining further added that a cooling chamber of twelve cabinets can cost almost a million kina and plans are underway by the hospital to get new cooling chambers for its morgue.

“We are actually in the process of getting a new one but at the moment we need funding, as well a supplier for it.

“It really depends on the government, on what budget they give us.

“If they give us enough for what we ask for, otherwise we cannot really get most of the things we need,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Diener or ‘morgue man’ at RPH’s morgue Kero Kalang said the biggest challenge of his job is getting dead bodies every day at his doorstep and constantly concerned about space and appealed to responsible authorities like the provincial health authority if another mortuary, like Port Moresby and Lae’s Funeral Home could be set up in the province.