Why Machakos hospital mortuary won't accept bodies from outside county

A section of Machakos County Referral Hospital. 

Photo credit: Pius Maundu | Nation Media Group

The Machakos County Referral Hospital mortuary will no longer accept bodies from other counties, according to the county's Health Executive Daniel Yumbya.

The mortuary serves parts of neighbouring Kajiado, Kiambu, Kitui and Makueni counties. Governor Wavinya Ndeti's administration says the facility is overwhelmed.

Dr Yumbya also announced the lifting of a ban on the use of the mortuary by police officers to deposit bodies collected from accident and crime scenes.

"The governor has now issued a directive. Starting next Friday, we will allow police officers to deposit bodies at the mortuary. However, these should only be bodies collected in Machakos County. The mortuary will only be opened for bodies collected from Machakos County," Dr Yumbya said during a press briefing at the facility on Saturday.

The stench emanating from the mortuary has dominated the complaints the Level 5 hospital has been battling with in recent months, with constant calls for Ms Ndeti to act to remedy the situation.

Although the mortuary has a capacity of 24 bodies, Dr Yumbya said it always holds many times that number, a situation he blamed on the police who use the facility to preserve bodies collected from accident and crime scenes in Machakos and neighbouring counties.

The situation worsens when bodies remain unclaimed for a long time, he said. "In an effort to decongest the mortuary, we disposed of some of the unclaimed bodies in the mortuary in March and another 31 unclaimed bodies in September after obtaining court orders."

 Despite the interventions, the uproar over the state of the mortuary intensified last month when the state government regulated the use of the mortuary to pave the way for its renovation. Social media was flooded with reports of residents being denied services at the facility.

The outcry prompted Dr Yumbya to take members of the Machakos County Assembly's health committee on a tour of the facility.

He denied claims that the mortuary had been closed as he listed a number of measures the county government had put in place to revamp service delivery at the hospital.

"We had only banned the police from depositing bodies from accident and crime scenes from other counties while we renovated the facility," he said.

"We had instructed the police to take the bodies elsewhere. The bodies they collect in Sultan Hamud should be taken to Makueni. Those they collect in Ngong should be taken to Nairobi. And those the police collect in Thika should be taken to Donyo Sabuk instead of causing congestion at Machakos County Referral Hospital mortuary," said Dr Yumbya.

Machakos Assembly Health Committee Chairman and Upper Kaewa MCA Vincent Mutie urged those complaining about service delivery at the hospital and mortuary to air their grievances without causing fear among the people. "Let's keep politics out of our hospitals," he said.