Zimbabwe: 'We Have to Put Bodies On the Floor' - Corpses Overwhelm Makumbe Hospital's 3-Body Mortuary Built Back in 1946

Makumbe Hospital has pleaded with government to help with the construction of a new mortuary as they are forced to pile up and place bodies on the floor due to a serious space shortage.

The hospital is in Goromonzi district which has a population of around 500 000 people.

The hospital is still relying on a 3-body mortuary chamber built in 1946.

Makumbe Hospital District Health Services Administrator Evelyn Runodada told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health, Tuesday that sometimes bodies stack up and they have to place some on the floors.

"We have a three-bodied mortuary which was built back in 1946.

"The space we have is too small and sometimes we double bodies per tray, that's one strategy we have implemented, and at times we put them on the floor and we communicate with relatives about our situation so that they quickly come and collect the bodies," she said.

Runodada said bodies that are brought in by the police in most cases take time without being collected and that poses a challenge.

"Some of them will never be collected and going through the process of pauper burial is a challenging process.

"At times we ask the police to take the body to Parirenyatwa of which most of the time there will be no space as well so we end up taking (bodies) for the sake of humanity because we cannot let people keep corpses in their homes," she said.

The hospital has been trying to mobilise funds to address the situation.

Runodada said a mortuary which can accommodate 12 bodies at a time would be ideal.

"We are trying to mobilise funds to construct a mortuary, we would want it to be a 12-bodied mortuary," she said.

However, the portfolio committee on health chairperson and Hwange Central lawmaker Daniel Molokele said the hospital should try to mobilise from the surrounding community by hosting tournaments and other fundraising initiatives.

"It is something very emotional. I'm actually traumatised that a whole district hospital has only three trays. You could try to raise funds by hosting football tournaments for instance without involving the government," said Molokele.

Makumbe was commissioned as a TB sanatorium.

At the time, the facility was being managed by the Roman Catholic church.

It was later handed over to the government in 1980 to become a district hospital.

The hospital still has old infrastructure and all its industrial stoves in the kitchen are malfunctioning.

One of their two laundry machines is currently down and the hospital often relies on water from community boreholes since taps will be dry.

The backup boreholes cannot supply enough water and the solar power is also inefficient.

"We also have boreholes but they do not have adequate capacity to supply water for the institution.

"We end up piling laundry or end up abusing our vehicles to go and fetch water from nearby community boreholes," said Runodada.

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