Masaka — Masaka Regional Referral Hospital has acquired modern refrigeration facilities.
The six mortuary fridges can accommodate 18 corpses at a time.
Masaka Regional Referral Hospital, which has been in existence since 1927, has been lacking its own mortuary and has since been relying on Masaka Municipality mortuary.
Daily Monitor ran a countrywide wrap-up of the state of most mortuaries in the country, where it was discovered that there is limited space, lack of refrigeration services as well as poor standard tables for postmortem and laboratories for testing specimens, which hinders the efficient running of the morgues.
Dr Nathan Onyachi, the director of Masaka Regional Referral Hospital, said each fridge costs Shs70 million. Fridges maintain the bodies in good shape and prevents them from rotting.
"We are delighted as a hospital to receive these mortuary fridges from the central government. They are going to enable us ensure proper storage of the bodies," he said during an interview on Saturday.
He said the new fridges will not be put in the dilapidated municipal mortuary and a special building has already been identified for them.
Dr Onyachi said on average, the hospital keeps five unclaimed bodies daily, besides the bodies of patients who die at the facility.
He, however, said they have been lacking capacity to keep the body for more than two days. The unclaimed bodies, according to Dr Onyachi, are picked from the streets of Masaka and from major highways in the sub-region, and are mostly of mad people and those killed in robberies and motor accidents.
He said: "It has been difficult to keep bodies for more than a week, once the body is not claimed in four days, we bury it in our cemetery to create space for other bodies coming in."
Dr Onyachi said with the new refrigeration facilities, they will now be able to keep the bodies longer.
The Masaka Resident District Commissioner, Mr Herman Ssentongo, who inspected the fridges last Friday, commended government for fulfilling its pledge and urged hospital authorities to ensure that the fridges are properly managed.
"I can see there is a lot of infrastructural development going on at the hospital and expensive equipment has also been installed. It is the duty of the management to jealously protect them for the good of the community," he said.
Most mortuaries across the country are currently in a deplorable state with some facing challenges of inadequate personnel to man the buildings and rooms where dead bodies are kept before burial or cremation.
In 2017, government unveiled a plan to construct a national mortuary facility in Kampala following a partnership with the Chinese firm Tip Top Investment Limited. The project, which is expected to be completed in 2021 will have a mortuary facility that can absorb close to 200 bodies and will also house the regional forensic referral centre .
Masaka Regional Hospital is one of the hospitals that has benefited from government projects expected to improve service delivery at the regional facility.
Masaka hospital, which was simply a treatment centre for syphilis, was elevated to a referral level in 1995 to offer services to the greater southern region districts. Since then, the hospital management has been grappling with many challenges ranging from lack of space to accommodate the overwhelming numbers of patients, inadequate drugs to irregular power supply.
Japanese government comes to rescue
To address the problem of space, the Japanese government, a few years ago constructed a multi-billion outpatient and health complex building.
The hospital also received funding from the Pakistani University of Lahore to build a diagnostic and imaging centre, which will offer services such as dental care and treatment, artificial teeth manufacturing and cardiac services.
The construction of the four-storeyed diagnostic centre is nearing completion and a medical college of Equator University of Science and Technology, which will use Masaka hospital as a teaching facility, is yet to commence.
A maternity complex estimated to have cost Shs10.6 billion is also near completion.
The four-storeyed facility, will have a gynaecology unit, antenatal and neonatal centres, labour and post-natal wards. It will also have a paediatric and nutrition unit and an adolescent health unit, all fully equipped with modern equipment.
Beneficiaries. Masaka Regional Referral Hospital serves eight districts - Masaka, Rakai, Lyantonde, Lwengo, Ssembabule, Bukomansimbi, Kalungu and Kalangala, taking care of more than two million people. The infrastructural capacity of Masaka regional referral hospital has been limited too.
Being on the busy Mombasa- Kampala Mbarara-Kigali highway, makes it the first point of call for patients, mainly accident victims from Burundi, Rwanda, the DR Congo and Tanzania. Consequently, the hospital's average daily contact with patients is about 2,000.