The Akwa Ibom State government has said that about 200 abandoned corpses in a public mortuary will be given mass burial in the first quarter of 2017.
The state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Dominic Ukpong, said this in Uyo on Thursday while defending the 2017 budget of his ministry.
He added that the abandoned corpses for mass burial are to be evacuated from the mortuary at Ikot Okoro General Hospital, Oruk Anam Local Government Area of the state.
Ukpong added that the impending exercise is intended to complement what his ministry did at Immanuel General Hospital, Eket LGA a year ago.
Ukpong, who was accompanied by the Permanent Secretary in his ministry, Mr. Bassey Attih; Director of Medical Services, Dr. Martin Akpan, and that of the Public Health, Dr. Godwin Ebuk, and other directors to the budget defence, stated that almost all public hospitals where mortuary services are provided in the state are overloaded with abandoned corpses.
He blamed the high number of abandoned corpses at the public mortuaries on poor burial planning which he said, at times took their surviving relations between two to three years without fulfilling.
“As you may be aware, we have a tradition that when a chief or the head of a family dies, demands will be made to the deceased family to the extent of exposing them to place their lands for sale and this will last for between two to three years thereby overstretching our mortuaries with abandoned corpses,” he said.
Ukpong noted that so many abandoned corpses were being littered around the mortuaries premises under harsh weather condition to the extent of looking like stock fish, adding that these are often exposed to vulture for feeding.
Mass burial, he said, was the only avenue of decongesting public mortuaries of abandoned corpses to enable people with good burial planning to patronise their services in the state.
Ukpong used the forum to ask for financial provision from the state government to aid emergency response services in Akwa Ibom.
According to him, financial provision was necessary to enable health officials to response promptly to emergency situations in any part of the state.
He said, “Where there is a stampede at the stadium, possible collapse of person at any point in time or a repeat of the recent Reigners’ Bible Church collapse, it would be possible for health officials from the ministry to control with ease such a situation.”
Ukpong explained further that Emergency Response Services has to do with the provision of stand-by ambulances, available essential health care facilities and specialised health professionals specifically placed by government for quick delivery of medical services at any point in time.
The commissioner described Emergency Response Services as the most civilised way of health care intervention and solicited the cooperation of the chairman and members of the appropriations and finance committee to cooperate with the ministry for a better result.
The chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Dr. Usoro Akpanusoh, emphasised the need for the commissioner to only give priority attention to areas of need for the available funds to be allocated for instead of overcrowding the budget with trivial matters.
Akpanusoh commended the commissioner for the medical services the officials of his ministry rendered during the collapsed rooftop of the Reigners’ Bible Church building in Uyo on December 10, 2016.
He pledged the willingness of his committee to cooperate with the ministry in the realisation of the task ahead.