Mortuary attendants at the 44-year-old Bomadi General Hospital, Bomadi in Bomadi Local Government Area, Delta State, stack corpses on improvised wooden platforms after embalmment and bizarrely abandon them to the vagaries of the weather, day and night.
The eyesore, according to our investigations, is due to lack of space to preserve the dead bodies in the hospital’s overflowing mortuary.
Meanwhile, patients have expressed disgust at the dilapidated condition of the health-care facility plagued by rats and mosquitoes, which has heightened the fear of Lassa fever and Zika virus in the riverside community.
When Niger Delta Voice visited the morgue, our reporters saw embalmed corpses covered with blankets deserted.
Efforts to speak with some of the doctors were futile, as none of them agreed to comment on the situation. Workers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they were under pressure on daily basis because of the challenges faced by patients. They called on government to resuscitate the hospital, which is the only government healthcare facility in the area.
Rats struggle for bread with me – Lawyer
A lawyer and human rights activist, E.U Opukiri, whose wife was on admission, narrated his experience: “I am a barrister of nine years in the bar, I came to this hospital because of the health of my wife and my experiences here in these two days are pathetic. There was no electricity and water in the hospital premises, a state government hospital for that matter.
“In the night when the rechargeable lamp we were using went off, rats came out in large numbers and spread everywhere. Some of them came specifically for the bread I bought for my wife, dragging it with me.
“Out of fear, I took the bread and made it a pillow at the head-side of the bed. I was, however, uncomfortable with it because of its shape and so I decided to put it in a cupboard-like shelf there. When I opened the shelf, I saw that it was a haven for rats. There were so many rats that I became afraid being aware of the prevalent Lassa fever caused by rats. We could not sleep at night these two days we were there,” he said.
Opukiri said: “Again, the hospital morgue too is an eye sore; our revered and deceased parents are dried right outside in the sun like Bonga fish, which is right there (pointing to the morgue). Therefore, I want government to intervene in this health facility immediately.
“As a matter of fact, I can categorically tell you that there is no water in this hospital. All the water facilities are dilapidated, which you can see for yourself. I had to go out of the hospital’s premises in the night to the riverside to fetch water for my wife.”
Leader of Bomadi Legislative Assembly, Hon Bekes Tonprebofa, who was a patient in the hospital, last year, complained bitterly about the state of the facilities, appealed to the state government to do the needful in the hospital.
Contacted on phone, Commissioner for Health, Delta State, Dr. Nicholas Azinge, said he was not aware of the development and promised to investigate the matter.
Why they keep corpses outside — Karetimi
Chair, Bomadi Local Government Area, Chief Oluwole Karetimi, who spoke to NDV, said the health facility required complete renovation/rehabilitation, adding that government has not upgraded it since its commissioning in the early 1970s.
Karetimi asserted: “I appeal to the state government to undertake complete renovation and upgrading of the hospital. We are aware that patients sleep with rats and mosquitoes during the night because of its state.
“The Lassa fever that we are talking about is a disease carried by rats. Now that we cannot assist the state government because of financial incapability, we appeal to the Hospital Management Board, HMB, Asaba and our amiable governor to quickly come to our aid.”
On the dead bodies kept outside the morgue, he said: “Corpses are now placed outside the mortuary because of space, which also needs upgrading.
The primary health-care centre too needs attention.
Again, if people keep their dead in the mortuary for more than one, two years as reported, then, the management of the hospital should formally write to the families concerned and give mass burial to such corpses if they refuse to take them.”
Not a good omen – Royal father
Traditional ruler of Kpakiama urban community, Chief Ambakederemo Bunu, who expressed dismay that corpses litter the outside of the mortuary, said it could lead to outbreak of both air and water-borne diseases and called on government to quickly intervene and save lives of the rural dwellers.
He also noted that the presence of rats in a government health-care facility at this time of Lassa fever disease was not a good omen for the people.
Relocate mortuary – Community chair
On his part, chair, Bomadi community, Hon. Stephen Muturu, said, “A situation whereby those on sick bed always see corpses that are carried through the wards to the mortuary is not palatable. Government should shift and fence the mortuary and construct a road from the fence at the backside to carry dead bodies.”
State intervention urgently needed – Councilor
Supervisory Councilor for Health, Hon. Lawrence T. Timbor, in his reaction, observed that the general hospital’s mortuary needed expansion because it was too small for an area that is fast growing, as compared to the time government built it.