The Management Board of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) has called on owners of about 800 corpses abandoned in the hospital mortuary for the last 10 years to come and evacuate them to provide enough space for fresh corpses.
The Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Prof Henry Ugboma, who made the call during an interview with newsmen in Port Harcourt, last Monday, stated that plans were underway to conduct mass burial for the over 800 unclaimed corpses within the next two weeks.
Ugboma warned that if the corpses were not claimed within the two-week deadline, the hospital would be left with no option than to conduct mass burial for them without recourse to their families or claimants.
He stressed that the corpses have been a burden to the resources of the hospital, as they have reduced the available space for the conservation of other corpses.
“We want to let the general public know that anybody who has a corpse here should quickly come and pick it up because after this announcement, we are going to do a mass burial as it is required by law and that is what we are doing. We are only obeying the law by letting the public know first.
“There are up to 800 unclaimed corpses occupying the space, and you can understand what that means to us. This is why we are telling the public first to come and pick them up,” he stressed.
He, therefore, called on those who have corpses in the morgue to ensure that they claim them before the window of grace elapses.
Ugboma, who is barely two months in office, stated that the hospital was being repositioned to serve its purpose as top tertiary health facility in the Niger Delta, disclosing that new equipment to boost healthcare services to patients will arrive in the next few months.
Explaining why the hospital reviewed its payment scheme downwards, the UPTH chief medical director explained that the policy was geared towards improving service delivery to the public.
He explained that the hospital has suspended the former cashless payment system in the hospital.
“We are reviewing service bills downwards to make sure that the common citizens are able to tackle their health issues,” he said.
While decrying poor funding as a major challenge to the hospital, Ugboma maintained that the situation has not deterred the management from conducting in-service training and accelerating efforts to improve workers’ welfare.
“I had to suspend the cashless system we were practising because when I came on board, and I had to review the activities, and discovered that when we were paying directly, we were making more money than when we started the cashless policy.
“But for a hospital in dire need of fund, as the chief executive, I need to do what is necessary to boost the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), and so, we have to stop them,” Ugboma added.
Meanwhile, Lassa fever has claimed 110 lives in Nigeria since the beginning of the year, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control said yesterday, in one of the worst outbreaks since 2016.
The World Heath Organisation last week said the epidemic had reached record highs with 317 laboratory confirmed cases and 72 people dead.
“Since the onset of the 2018 outbreak, there have been 110 deaths: 78 in positive-confirmed cases, eight in probable cases and 24 in negative cases,” the NCDC said in its latest report.
A total of 1,121 suspected cases were reported, “353 are confirmed positive, 8 are probable, 723 are negative (not a case) and 37 are awaiting laboratory results.”
The NCDC said cases have been reported in 18 of Nigeria’s 36 states while 16 health workers had been affected in six states.
Health Minister Isaac Adewole told local media yesterday that the government would soon take delivery of vaccines to tame the virus.
“We are doing everything possible to fight and address the outbreak of lassa fever on all fronts,” he said.
Lassa fever belongs to the same family as Marburg and Ebola, two deadly viruses that lead to infections with fever, vomiting and in worst-case scenarios, haemorrhagic bleeding.
The name comes from the town of Lassa in northern Nigeria where it was first identified in 1969.
More than 100 people were killed in 2016 in one of the nation’s worst outbreaks of the disease, affecting 14 of the 36 states, including Lagos and the capital Abuja.
The virus is spread through contact with food or household items contaminated with rats’ urine or faeces or after coming into direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person.