Unam needs bodies

The University of Stellenbosch will not supply the Unam School of Medicine with cadavers from next year and Namibian law makes no provision for people to donate their bodies to science.

02 October 2017 | Education

The Unam School of Medicine (SoM) has appealed to Namibians to donate their bodies for medical research. So far six Namibians have pledged their bodies.

According to Unam spokesperson Simon Namesho the medical school has since 2011 used cadavers from the Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape in South Africa, because local cadavers were not available.

“Since Stellenbosch University has scaled down their embalming facilities, the School of Medicine was already notified by them that this will be the last year that they will be able to help the School of Medicine with human material such as bodies or cadavers,” said Namesho.

Namesho added that Unam paid N$18 500 per body for the cost of equipment and embalming chemicals, labour and storage, transport and cremation afterwards.

According to Namesho the bodies that the medical school had in stock in 2016 were sent back to South Africa in July, where they were to be cremated by Stellenbosch University.

“If the School of Medicine has its own bodies, it is equipped and trained to do its own embalming and have the necessary storage facilities.

“However, we realise it will take time to change the perceptions of people across cultures and religious beliefs. It is, however, our duty as a community to provide the best possible training to our future doctors in Namibia,” he said.

Namesho added that Unam's Faculty of Health Sciences had been working tirelessly with the Ministry of Health and Social Services and the attorney-general's office for the past two years to update the Namibian Human Tissue Act in order to make donation legally possible.

The Faculty of Health Sciences' next aim is to make the public aware of the need for body donations as well as to appeal to people for organ and blood donations.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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