The deceased, an elderly man who was referred from a health facility in Pandwong Division reportedly succumbed to COVID-19 complications at about 5 pm on Wednesday. However, his body remained on his death bed for close to 20 hours, until it was handed over to the relatives on Thursday afternoon.
Patients at Kitgum General Hospital endured distressing sights for close to 20-hours when medics failed to relocate the body of a man who succumbed to COVID-19 in the treatment ward.
The deceased, an elderly man who
was referred from a health facility in Pandwong Division reportedly
succumbed to COVID-19 complications at about 5 pm on Wednesday. However, his body remained on his death bed for close to 20 hours, until it was handed over to the relatives on Thursday afternoon.
At the time of
his death, three other patients had been admitted to the treatment unit and
undergoing medical treatment. The Senior Hospital
Administrator Bezy Omoya acknowledged that the hospital did not have a holding unit for bodies of patients who succumb to COVID-19.
He says that although the sight of the
body lying in the same ward with patients was traumatizing to both patients and the health workers, they did not have an alternative. Omoya adds that while the hospital had no space to keep the corpse, the deceased's
family members were also not prepared to take the body since the ministry of Health Discourages vigils.
“The reason for not picking the
body is that the body should be picked and taken for burial. There is no way they were going to pick the body and again keep it,” Omoya said.
He notes that the Hospital
management is making proposals on finding a suitable holding room where
patients who succumb to COVID-19 are first kept before being transported for
burial. Omoya says the hospital also
lacks a burial team.
But William Komakech, the Kitgum
Resident District Commissioner also chairperson of the COVID-19 task force tasked the hospital
authorities with finding a holding room to keep the bodies of patients succumbing to COVID-19 before they are taken for burial.
The Acting Kitgum District Health
Officer Dr Henry Okello Otto says keeping bodies in the same ward with patients is
unethical and traumatizing. He notes that the hospital authorities should have
created a separate room to hold the body for a short while as burial plans were
On Thursday, the district task force members comprising the Resident District Commissioner, District Health Officer,
District Chairperson among others made an emergency tour of the facility to assess
its suitability for COVID-19 treatment.
Raymond Ocan, the Secretary for
Health, Education, and Community Based Services in Kitgum District says that the hospital authorities have not provided a designated room
that will act as a special holding unit for COVID-19 death.
He, however, notes that the
hospital officials have agreed to temporarily keep the body of a patient who succumbs to COVID-19 in an ambulance before the relatives pick up the body for burial.
Kitgum District has lately registered a spike in cases of COVID-19 infection in
Just in the last week, a total of 40 positive COVID-19 cases
were registered out of 273 samples tested through PCR and RDT. The district has registered a
total of 631 cumulative positive COVID-19 cases since March last year.
Kitgum General Hospital relies on
a dilapidated mortuary that was constructed in 1938 and operates without a freezer.
For the past years, the hospital has been seeking financial support to construct
a modern mortuary that is expected to cost about 500 million Shillings.
Bureau Chief, West Acholi