Dire post-mortem woes

The Ohangwena Region has no permanent medical officer to execute autopsies causing delays in burials.

08 October 2018 | Health

Ohangwena regional health director, John Hango, says for the past two years the region has been without a permanent medical officer to conduct post-mortems, which is a serious challenge.

This was after Namibian Sun enquired about the status quo, which sees family members waiting for days or even a week for corpses to be released from the police morgue for burial.

Ohangwena post-mortems are currently conducted at the Okongo police mortuary by a relief medical officer.

“The region had one medical officer trained in doing post-mortems, but since his departure about two years back, there has been no one to do the service,” Hango said.

He explained how dire the current situation is.

He said the region makes use of a relief medical officer, but the workload has been steadily increasing.

Hango added having one medical officer at the Okongo police mortuary is not enough.

Namibian Sun understands that in some cases, corpses are transported to Oshakati or Rundu.

Hango said the ministry is in the process of recruiting two full-time medical officers.

“The challenge is that, as we speak, there is no medical officer in Okongo except the one who does relief duty, but the ministry is busy recruiting two doctors for Okongo. The workload at Okongo has been also increasing and there was only one doctor for over a year,” Hango said.

Meanwhile, bereaved families have shared their experiences, saying they had to halt funeral arrangements because they are were told there is no doctor to conduct post-mortems and corpses cannot be released.

In July, Namibian Sun reported on a grieving Ohangwena that was left traumatised, after first guarding the decomposing corpse of their loved one, and then waiting in vain for her body to be released for burial.

The grieving family had already dug a grave, but could not bury the deceased as the body was being kept by the police.

At that time, Ohangwena police spokesperson, Warrant Officer Abner Kaume Itumba, said the delay was caused by the health ministry, which had not assigned a doctor to conduct post-mortems in the region.

“Our police mortuary is at Okongo and the Ministry of Health and Social Services did not avail a doctor to us to conduct post-mortems. We are either assisted by the Kavango East or Oshana regions, but in this case we could not send the decomposed corpse to Rundu, looking at the distance, and the Oshana doctor could not come through as well, when we asked,” Itumba explained.

The corpse was released a week later and the family then proceeded with the burial.


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