Uganda: Jinja Hospital Release Bodies for Burial Without Autopsy Over Absence of Pathologist

13 December 2019

Jinja Regional Referral Hospital is releasing several bodies to their relatives for burial without postmortem due to the absence of a pathologist.

The hospital pathologist Dr Godfrey Ssenyonjo reportedly fell ill about two months ago and there is no one to fill in for him.

A police source said on condition of anonymity that at least eight bodies have been handed over to their relatives for burial over the past three months without postmortem.

"The hospital administrators are not clear on when the pathologist will resume duty. Bodies are collected from crime scenes and delivered to the mortuary where they can spend two nights in fridges without postmortem, which kills cases," he said.

Sawuya Mutesi, a resident of Mpummude trading center said she carried her cousin's body from Jinja Regional Referral Hospital to another hospital for postmortem.

"It brings satisfaction to the soul when you are given medical information showing the cause of death. So when I failed to get it from Jinja, I rushed the body to Iganga (located about 40kms away) for the sake of getting the postmortem done," she said.

Dr Edward Nkurunziza, the Director Jinja Regional Referral hospital admitted that ever since the pathologist fell ill, getting a postmortem report from the facility has become a challenge.

"He was taken ill two months ago. This created a gap at the mortuary but we shall improvise as administrators. One of us will be assigned the task for the meantime as we wait for the responsible doctor to recover and resume his duties," he said.

He added that, "It was really alarming when a student attached to Kampala University was last week shot dead. The body spent a night in the fridge only to be alerted the following day how the responsible doctor was not available. So we teamed with family members and ferried the deceased to Iganga hospital for postmortem, which was costly and time wasting."

Dr James Waako, the Medical Superintendent Iganga hospital confirmed that doctors at the facility regularly perform postmortem on bodies brought in by police from other hospitals. Postmortem or autopsy is the examination of a body with the aim of establishing the cause of death.

An autopsy report can be vital in contentious deaths.

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