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Kenyatta hospital to dispose off unclaimed bodies

Kenyans have a week to identify and collect 418 unclaimed bodies lying at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), failure to which they will be interred by the government.

In a public notice on Tuesday, July 20, 2021, the country’s main referral hospital said the bodies have been lying at the facility’s farewell home with no next of kin coming forward to claim them.

“Pursuant to Public Health Ac Cap 242 (Subsidiary Legislation Public Health Mortuaries Rules, 1991), interested members of the public are asked to identify and collect the bodies within 7 days, failure to which KNH will seek authority for disposal,” read in part the notice.

Cap 242 of the Public Health Act says an unclaimed body should be removed from a mortuary within two weeks or else it is disposed of in a mass grave after public officers obtain a court’s permission.

The hospital said the list of the bodies is available at KNH Farewell Home and can also be accessed digitally through the facility’s online site.

Public health facilities have been expressing concern over the increasing number of unclaimed bodies across different health facilities with Nairobi, particularly City Mortuary, being the worst affected.

The notice comes a day after the Kisumu County government disposed off 61 bodies that had been lying in the county’s various mortuaries in mass graves in various public cemeteries after obtaining a court order giving a go ahead for the process.

The county also gave a one-week window period for relatives to show up for the remaining 16 unclaimed bodies lying at the Kisumu County Referral Hospital and Ahero sub-county hospital morgue.

Between 2003 and 2006, KNH disposed 3,000 bodies while the City Mortuary did dispose 2,500 unclaimed bodies losing millions in mortuary fees in the process.

The bodies, buried at a mass grave at Lang’ata Cemetery, had been lying at the county hospital’s morgue since April 2018.

In March this year, NMS called upon members of the public to collect 119 unclaimed bodies at various city morgues. The bodies had accumulated at the morgues between May and October, 2020.