By Claudia Tally in Port Moresby
Sixty four compartments of Papua New Guinea’s main mortuary have been out of service since the festive season while a new refrigerated container has also broken down, leaving the hospital looking for room while another 257 dead bodies lie unclaimed.
Port Moresby General Hospital Chief Executive Officer Dr Paki Molumi confirmed with the Post-Courier that the mortuary is full and that a mass burial is expected in the next three weeks.
The storage issue at the country’s biggest hospital is recurrent despite promises and assistance from the national government, the National Capital District Commission, the NCD Provincial Health Authority, partner agencies and others.
The hospital’s Director of Medical Services Dr Koni Sobi said due to the ageing infrastructure, repairing these compartments was an issue.
“The cooling system of a particular container broke down last week,” he said.
“A contractor was engaged last week but they are unable to get inside and do repair work until we empty that container of all human bodies and body parts.
“The 64 compartments’ chiller in the main mortuary building have also been out of service since the festive season. There is a contractor working to repair it. However, it is a very old unit, needs replacing or a major rehabilitation work, which is undergoing this process at the moment,” Dr Sobi said.
Seven bodies lying in open
When the Post-Courier visited the mortuary on Wednesday, at least seven bodies were left lying outside in the open waiting for relatives to come forward.
Meanwhile, the unpleasant smell from the morgue has affected residents nearby.
Dr Sobi explained that the POMGEN mortuary workers had began shifting the bodies from the container where the cooling system had broken down to five other containers, however the other containers were also full.
“We have bodies in the morgue since September 2023. Currently there are 257 bodies and body parts.
“The smell is evident often when the container is opened to remove body or bodies.
“Preparations for another mass burial have commenced and expected to take place within the next 3 weeks,” he said.
The hospital is now appealing to relatives to come forward and collect bodies of their loved ones for burial.
Claudia Tally is a PNG Post-Courier reporter. Republished with permission.
Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz